by Matt Gates
There will be a bond referendum Sept. 24 on funding to replace the roofing of the majority of town schools and install a lighted turf field behind WHS.
According to westfieldnjk12.org, the turf field will accommodate the 31 percent increase in the number of athletes and the 74 to 127 percent increase in youth recreation and sports program participants since 2001. The roofing on district schools averages 20 years old and is in poor condition.
According to westfieldnjk12.org, out of the $16.9 million bond, $13.6 million would go to the roof replacements and $3.3 million would go to the turf field.
Some residents are questioning the inclusion of both items on the referendum. Said senior Matt Lynn: “It’s absurd to raise taxes…for this field, [and] they’ve lumped the vote in with the repairs for the roof of the school…. They should be separate issues to be voted upon.”
According to westfieldnjk12.org, the items are combined “due to the importance of addressing the increase in student enrollment and athletic participation, the need to preserve the integrity of the school district’s buildings and the importance of planning for the future.”
Regarding the turf field, Supervisor of Athletics Ms. Sandra Mamary said, “[It] would create so many more options to schedule athletics and keep [teams] home where they belong.”
Mamary said the only other regulation size turf field in Westfield on which high school games can be played is at Kehler, and turf would allow PE classes to play immediately after rain has stopped instead of waiting until the next day.
According to Mamary, field turf is safer than a grass field because it is a soft level surface.
However, some residents still are not convinced about the plan for the field.
Said neighborhood resident Ms. Kathleen Robb, “The BOE has not answered any questions about what it would cost to maintain the turf field.” She added: “They are putting 80-foot light poles in people’s backyards. That’s just not fair.”