Westfield Board of Education Approves Bond Proposal for New Roofs and Turf Field
Wednesday, June 6, 2012 • 2:52pm
WESTFIELD, NJ - With school roofs and fields in the Westfield school district in need of repair, the board of education agreed to combine the bond proposal for new roofs and a lighted turf field into a single bond referendum by a 5-3 vote last night. It will appear on the Sept. 24 ballot.
Many of the buildings have leaking roofs and are badly in need of being replaced. Although the district’s attempt to install solar panels in the past was rebuked, the board hopes the referendum will change that. According to George Duthie, the district’s architect approximately 85 percent of the roofs on 11 school district buildings will need reconstructive work
George Duthie, the district’s architect, evaluated all the buildings and found each school‘s roof has different needs and all require different funding. Some of the costs include: $4 million for Westfield High School, $2.3 million for Edison Intermediate School, $1.7 million for Roosevelt Intermediate School and $4.63 million for Franklin Elementary School.
The other problem is the overuse of the 11 fields in the district. Jane Clancy, chair of the board’s facilities committee, said the field would be a long-range solution to the growing needs for fields and the fact that they are used for multiple sports. Westfield fields 31 sports and 73 teams with a total of 1,693 participants. With participation in multiple sports, he noted, 40 percent of the student population is involved in athletics. Football leads fall sports in participation with 103 athletes, followed by girls’ cross country, with 102.
While the board passed the proposal, not everyone was in agreement. Board member Mitchell Slater said both items are important, but they should be voted on separately.
“As a financial advisor I know that interest rates this low won’t be around forever,” Slater said. “The time is right and we should go forth with both of these important projects. That being said I’m also a firm believer in the democratic process.”
Board President Richard Mattessich and member Rosanne Kurstedt both voted for the referendum. Mattesich said they are both important for the town and hopes residents feel the same way.
“I just feel they’re both important for the district to move forward,” Kurstedt said.
Several residents strongly disagreed with the board’s decision. Matt Wiener expressed his displeasure with the decision when he told the board they were doing the “run around” by merging the two issues into one vote. Another resident who has two children in the school system and lives across from where the new turf field will go said there should be two separate votes. She added there is no need for a new field, but more importantly the district should purchase new computers instead.
“As a homeowner, I believe this will decrease the value of my house and cause me turmoil,” the resident said. “The priorities of the projects are not equal. Again it’s a democracy we live in; give us the right to vote on the two issues separately.”