Home Field Advantage, Understanding Irvington’s New School Bond

The constant flooding and deterioration of Meszaros Field, the inability for athletic competition to be held on East Field, and the inadequate amount of tennis courts are issues that the Village of Irvington is all too familiar with.

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Poor drainage on playing field

It has put a strain on students, parents, and the community as a whole. A proposed $4.85 million bond may be just the "4th-down" conversion they were looking for.

"The fields were never constructed with correct drainage in the first place. These fields have been around for 40 to 50 years. Something had to give," said School Board President Paul Mandel.

Renovating the fields and creating new field space has been informally talked about for years. Dr. Kathleen Matusiac, Superintendent of Irvington Schools and advocate of the field initiative proposal, notes that it had even been an issue prior to her becoming Superintendent back in July 2004.

With the recent $47 million Bond focused on the High School and Middle School facilities, and the approximate $3.3 million spent on Main Street School’s repairs and refurbishments, the tennis court and field enhancements needed were often talked about but never actually accomplished. "We said we were going to do it but we didn’t have a plan. This is really the first thoughtful look, with an engineer and a consultant, to figure out the logistics," said Mandel.

Still, many question not only the haste of starting a new project so soon, the efficiency with which it will be carried out, the impact on taxes and the all too familiar drainage issues. "The 47 million dollar renovation of the schools didn’t go as well as many people thought, which has many people questioning this current project," said local resident Michael Glantz. Glantz, along with several concerned community members, got together to form Team Irvington. (TeamIrvington.org is a community-driven site that provides a plethora of information regarding the proposal and the answers to many raised questions.) The following are some of Team Irvington’s responses to a few questions.

Wondering how much this project will cost? "The cost for a taxpayer during the 2007-2008 school year: Zero; during 2008-09: less than 1/2 of 1%, ($48/year for a house with an average assessment of $20,000); during 2009-10: about 1/2 of 1%, ($74/year for a house with an average assessment of $20,000) for a total 1.22% (school taxes only) increase over the remaining life of the bond." Concerned that this project will be designed properly? "The District will engage a second consultant to serve as an additional pair of eyes overseeing the project and will invite community members with construction expertise to participate in a committee overseeing this project." Are drainage issues being taken into consideration? "Drainage has been a key consideration of this project from the beginning. The budget for this project includes extensive funding for drainage structures under the new fields and facilities."

Pending the bond’s approval, the project would be split up into two construction phases. The first phase would see Meszaros Field undergoing a massive facelift — converting the grass field into a far more durable turf field that would require less maintenance and allow optimal playing time year round. Paul Mandel equates the use of turf to "buying cheap land." The field would also be illuminated with new lights that would allow longer practices and in essence double field space. The eighteen-year-old track located around the field would also be replaced, as it too has been showing signs of wear and has far exceeded its ten-year life expectancy. Phase I would tentatively be scheduled for completion September 2007.

Phase II would call for the complete overhaul of East Field. The field would be re-sodded, taking into account drainage and irrigation concerns, as well as straightened and flattened to provide a level playing field for baseball, soccer and lacrosse. Phase II also would include a paved parking lot and four tennis courts.

"Irvington has very few fields relative to its population. It’s not like we’re trying to build Notre Dame-on-the-Hudson. We’re just building facilities we can use," said Mandel. Voting takes place on December 20.

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