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WMRSD school board nixes hiring athletic fields consultant

May 26, 2010
WHITEFIELD — No money should be spent on engineering-consulting services as proposed by the Ad Hoc Athletic Fields Committee, WMRSD school board members agreed at Monday night's meeting.

Volunteer Ad Hoc committee chairman George Brodeur of Twin Mountain told the board at Monday night's meeting that spending $7,400 would provide information needed to prepare an athletic fields master plan. "We're willing to serve, but need direction," he said.

Despite their recognition that something must be done to remedy drainage, turf, and safety issues, board members told Mr. Brodeur that voters at the annual school meeting on March 9 had turned down (710 to 964) Article 14 that sought $30,000 for engineering services to plan a new playing field at the Lancaster School (LES).

Article 15, seeking to establish a $100,000 capital reserve fund for constructing District athletic fields, also failed — 699 to 981.

Voters had been told by the Ad Hoc committee at the Feb. 1 Deliberative Session that these monies would be spent building a second field at LES to allow the WMRHS athletic fields to be renovated once the grass on the new LES field was established. The plan required other fields in the District to be used for practice and interscholastic contests.

Mr. Brodeur explained that volunteer equipment operators had recently found that old drainage pipes are still in place under the WMRHS fields, although some have collapsed. Bermico coal-tar-impregnated wood-fiber pipe, manufactured by the Brown Company in Berlin, was used in the mid-1960s installation.

The Ad Hoc committee has now "turned away" from the idea of building a new field at LES. Instead its member want to concentrate on getting a bead on drainage, irrigation, top dressing, and seed mix issues on already-existing WMRHS fields. Spending $6,900 on Horizons Engineering of Littleton, plus another $500 on test borings and soil studies, get the District total project cost estimates, including building a new field plus a track.

School board member Herb Richardson of Lancaster said that since voters had turned down both proposed appropriations, the board should not — and possibly could not — use 2010 surplus dollars to pay engineering fees. Voters spoke on their ballots, he said.

Board member Cathy Warren of Carroll said that the board knows that something about the District's athletic fields "has got to happen," but that complete transparency would be vital if success is to be realized. Director of buildings and grounds Rick Vashaw should not need to wait for the board to give a new charge to the Ad Hoc committee in order to plan annual maintenance for all District playing fields, explained board member Randy Boggess of Lancaster.

In other action, the board accepted with appreciation two resignations, effective June 30: WMRHS social studies teacher Carol Groskey, and fifth-grade WES teacher Nancy Annunziato. The board also accepted the resignation of part-time bus driver Richard Brown, as of May 28.

Varney Smith
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