F-M BOE accepts turf field proposal

A team of young athletes filled the first two rows at a meeting Monday night to support a local community group seeking school board approval for a turf field proposal.

The Fayetteville-Manlius Board of Education voted 7-1 to accept the proposal offered by the Fayetteville-Manlius Community Sports Facility Association. Board member Elena Romano abstained from voting and Valerie Clark was the sole member opposed due to the crumb rubber infill that the group will most likely choose for the turf field. She is not against installing a turf field but would like to research viable options.

The vote does not mean the board accepted the gift up the turf field itself. Both parties will work together in the coming months to make sure contingencies within the resolution are met, including the $1.8 million promised to the board by Feb. 28. The group has so far raised $900,000 but still has a ways to go, said group leader Kevin Hanlon.

Additionally, the FMCSFA is working toward raising funds for turf field replacement costs: $100,000 by Dec. 31 and another $25,000 to $30,000 each year thereafter.

Comments from the public were mostly in favor of the proposed gift, but a few residents were unclear about the project and its funding. Board president John Cucinotta explained this project is entirely different from the public referendum that was voted down by residents 2:1 in 2008.

That project cost more than $4 million and involved an entirely new stadium, bleachers, broadcast box and other amenities, including a turf field. The proposal now is to replace the grass for a turf field with donations raised by the community; taxpayers would not be burdened by the expense.

According to business manager Mike Vespi, the swap from grass to turf would, down the road, be financially neutral.

If, however, the board had decided to vote against the turf field proposal, there would be a cost for taxpayers: about $184,000 in grass field maintenance and repairs over the course of 10 years.

For more information about the FMCSFA and its plans, visit fmfield.com.

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