WEST MILFORD – Cost cuts triggered by the impact of the pandemic on school operations could provide the district’s central campus with a second artificial turf pitch.
School board members discussed two possible sites for a new synthetic turf surface: Ray Kilgallen Field, the baseball and field hockey field behind Westbrook Elementary School, and Robert Dygos Field, an adjacent junior college field. to the existing artificial turf field. behind the Macopin college.
“Both have a lot of potential. Both are mixed-use fields, ”said Superintendent of Schools Alex Anemone.
The project would be scheduled for the 2021-22 budget cycle, when the school district is expected to have a surplus greater than the 2% it is allowed to hold. Instead of offsetting operations for a year-long tax cut, district officials are considering capital spending, ranging from a new high school phone system and security cameras to a new grass pitch.
“We didn’t buy gasoline for our buses. We didn’t heat the buildings, ”Anemone said. “There were a lot of small savings from March 15 to June 30, and you add up all those little savings and that makes a lot.”
He did not respond to calls asking how much the district had saved.
The project on the ground would benefit the entire community, board members said. The district shares its land during off-peak hours with the many recreational sports leagues in the district, and the demand for time in the field is high, they said.
Barbara Francisco, district business administrator, said the Dygos Field project could be the simpler of the two options. Although Kilgallen Field is lit, the site is surrounded by wetlands and could use some elevation. Such a project would likely require additional environmental permits that could push its timeline beyond the 2021-22 budget cycle, where the excess surplus must be spent.
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However, other options could still present themselves. Board member Jaycen Stillman said he plans to take up the project on the ground with members of the municipality’s governing body. Ten years ago, city council partnered with school board to set up the district’s first grassland. They share its use in a renewed agreement earlier this year.
Originally intended to be on township property, the synthetic surface was included as a sweetener in the city’s purchase of a site once considered for a housing development. The artificial turf was eventually placed on school district property due to the land use regulations of the Highlands Act from which school districts have exemptions.
David Zimmer is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.