Irvington Field of Dreams:, Take Two

Irvington residents will experience déjà vu immediately after uttering their New Year’s resolutions. As early as January, the Board of Education may ask residents to vote on another bond referendum for athletic field renovations.

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Irvington’s football field is being considered for new turf and lights.

Of course, residents already opposed the idea last December after they narrowly defeated a referendum that would have allotted up to $4.9 million for multiple projects. The appropriated money, along with $696,000 already approved in 2003, would have been used to install turf and lights for Meszaros [football] Field, replace the track, make improvements to East Field, add parking and tennis courts, and fix the drainage structure of the entire campus. Residents voted against the projects 845 (no) to 798 (yes).

Less than a month later, the board issued a statement declaring that discussions had begun anew. Part of the Board’s new efforts included a revitalized communications push and efforts to solicit input from various groups in the community. That effort continued earlier this month with a professional phone survey of 300 randomly selected residents conducted by Zogby International. Residents were given 29 multiple choice questions. The cost of the survey was $10,000.

“Of course, we’ve heard both sides of that issue,” Board President Tanya Hunt said in an interview in response to a question about the cost of the survey. “We want to make sure we use every possible resource.” Hunt also affirmed previous statements by the Board — making small repairs rather than funding a comprehensive plan would ultimately be more costly.

In a fact sheet issued last December, the Board said, “Without a bond, we will need to make piecemeal repairs to our fields as part of our yearly budget (which will cost more in the short-run and in the long-run). Ultimately, borrowing by way of a 15-year bond and doing one large project will end up being a more efficient use of taxpayer funds and will result in facilities that will be used by our entire community.”

Hunt also acknowledged that issuing defeated referendums adds a price to that as well.

“The survey results will help guide us,” Hunt said. “The Board of Education is truly interested in knowing what people want.” Survey results weren’t available by press time, but Hunt said the Board would hold a public meeting to discuss the project later this month.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Matusiak said that depending on the survey results, the scope of the new referendum could be the same or less than what had been proposed last year. Currently, she said the business office is working with an attorney to go through the appropriate next steps before hiring an environmental engineer to undertake a drainage study of the high school and middle school campus.

According to a recent statement on the Board’s Web site, there has been a flurry of activity to get this project going. The statement said officials recommended LAN Associates to conduct the drainage study. After the study is completed, the School Board would submit it to Irvington Village officials for their review.

Meanwhile, residents Jean Sears and Donna Hurwitz have raised over $9,000 so far for the Irvington Field of Dreams Association. Residents interested in making a donation should visit irvingtonfod.org.

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About the Author: Brett Freeman