DeWitt Around 100 people crammed into the Jamesville-DeWitt District Office for the board of education meeting on Dec. 16 to advocate for a new turf field. The J-D Community Grounds for Action Coalition has been raising money for about one year to construct a turf field, install new lighting and resurface the track.
The J-D school board set a fundraising deadline of Nov. 1. At that point, the JDCGAC had not hit the $1.6 million mark for the project, but came back to the board with a proposition to build a 195-foot-wide turf field instead of the 210-foot-wide field they originally proposed to the board in Oct. 2012. The smaller width would most likely cost around $1.2 million. And at the Dec. 16 meeting, the board voted unanimously to accept the 195-foot field, pending the district lawyer’s approval.
“Can our kids play on a 195-foot field? Yes, they could” said J-D School Board Vice President Virginia Murphy. “Would that make some of our programs unhappy? Yes, it would.”
The district originally turned down the group’s proposal for a smaller field because some of the coaches would like a larger playing field. But Amy Burns, the co-chair of fundraising for the JDCGAC, said the coalition spoke with high school and college coaches from across Central New York who insist that a 195-foot-wide field fulfills the requirements for all sports.
“We have quotes from Gary Gait [SU women’s lacrosse coach], Tom Etoll [Westhill boys soccer coach] and Jeff Hammond [F-M boys soccer coach] stating that the field houses all sports,” Burns said. “It meets all of the regulations for all sports. We knew that at the beginning of our campaign – [we originally proposed a 195-foot-wide field] because we knew it was much more financially feasible.”
So far, the group has raised $700,000 in cash and pledges and has about $250,000 of in-kind donations, including lighting and stone. Burns said the $1.2 million goal is reachable and that the JDCGAC is meeting this week to begin brainstorming on how it will raise the remaining $250,000.
All but one person spoke in favor of the turf field during the public comment portion of the meeting, which went on for more than an hour, to a standing-room only crowd. Among those people was J-D parent Jim Boeheim.
“This turf field will make J-D better,” Boeheim said. “I’m embarrassed when I go out there and watch a football game at that field.”
As of now, the timeline for the project is uncertain. Superintendent Alice Kendrick said it can take about four months to get all of the paperwork in order for the state’s approval.