Professional Engineer Bernard Lamm
Renovations were originally proposed in 2012 and school Board Secretary Gary Ottmann said the funds have been held in reserve.since then. He said plans call for starting the project in June and having it ready in time for the first football game of 2015.
The multiple-use athletic field will have athletic turf on the football field only. A new stone drainage system and four new lighting poles will be installed.
Planning Board member William Toth asked whether neighbors had received notice of the new lighting plan, but board attorney Michele Donato said no notice was required for a capital review. Planning Director William Nierstedt raised a concern over who was going to approve it first, the planners or the school board. Asked whether any hearings had been held with neighbors, Ottmann said, "Not since the last time."
Nierstedt said what happens in such situations is that "neighbors come out in force" and say they weren't told. He also asked how the lights would be controlled. Testifying for the school district, Professional Engineer Bernard Lamm said there would be two levels of lighting, one for events and a lower one for community purposes. (The track is heavily used by local residents, as noted in Dan Damon's 2012 post on the issue.)
Planning Board Chairman Ron Scott Bey said he wanted the lighting to be locally controlled, as opposed to timers.
"I've been in situations where events go 45 minutes longer than the lights are on," he said.
The planners also discussed some of the pitfalls of artificial turf. Board member Gordon Fuller cited a situation where players had to get off the turf because the sun made it too hot. Scott Bey said an older form of artificial turf was believed to lead to more injuries, but a newer form did not. He said he hoped the new field would "emulate Rutgers."
Donato asked about "toxicity" and Scott Bey said any cuts suffered on artificial turf had to be treated promptly.
"The quicker you deal with it, the better," he said.
Toth returned to the lighting issue and said he thought it would be "a big disservice to neighbors" to install the new lights without discussion. Nierstedt asked Ottman and Schools Superintendent Anna Belin-Pyles to let him know when a hearing was scheduled.
In public comment, Dan Damon asked where the funding was coming from, the state or the taxpayer. Ottman noted the district receives 80 percent of its funding from the state and said one could "extrapolate" on the source.
The Planning Board was still awaiting a report from its own engineer, but approved the capital review plan pending receipt of the report and with the understanding that neighbors will be able to comment on the lighting and that it will be controlled locally. Donato asked whether the plan conformed to the district's mandated "long-term facilities plan" and Ottmann said it did. Donato said Planning Board approval on land use elements did not really mean the plan would happen "whether the neighbors want it or not." She said it has always been held by the court that the board could consider "legitimate local concerns."
Planning Board member Ken Robertson traced the history of the case and said, "It seems to me we can approve of this and let it go, and (the school board) will do the right thing."
Toth voted "no" and Fuller, Robertson, Horace Baldwin. and Scott Bey voted "yes."