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Jul 142020
 

During the various Amity High School Graduation events, I heard of a grassroots effort in Woodbridge to overturn the tri-town referendum decision to pass a turf field at the High School.

Parents, teachers, and athletes (most outgoing seniors) voiced a common concern. “What makes them think they have the right to do that?”

The last-ditch effort to block the approved turf field amid a pandemic went forward at two Woodbridge Planning and Zoning meetings this month.

History

After many years of trying to improve playing conditions for its athletic teams, and one failed referendum for an all-weather field in September 2013, Amity administrators worked tirelessly in 2019 to come up with a plan for a new sports complex at the high school.

A referendum was scheduled for December 4, 2019, which included two projects. The first project addressed improvements to the building and grounds facilities at all three schools. 

The second project aimed for improvements to the Amity Regional High School outdoor athletic facilities.  This project includes a complete upgrade of the athletic stadium, as well as upgrades to the competition field.  The athletic stadium was last improved 30 years ago, and almost all aspects of the stadium are at end-of-life. 

The asphalt track, constructed in 1999, would be replaced with a post-tensioned concrete track with an expected lifespan of 50 years or more.  The metal halide lights and wooden poles, installed in 1988, would be replaced with energy-efficient LED lights on metal poles.

An all-weather field would be installed, replacing the current sod field.  Installation of an all-weather field would increase the use of the stadium from its current single sport, football, to all six-field sports by adding competition space for girls’ field hockey, boys’ and girls’ soccer, and girls’ and boys’ lacrosse.

The proposal also included the installation of an LED scoreboard, which would allow the scoreboard to be adjusted to the sport or competition being played in the stadium.  Lastly, the proposal included enhancements to the current Amity competition field. This field, originally designed as a practice field, would be upgraded with permanent spectator bleachers and an ADA compliant walkway, and an LED scoreboard.

Preparations

Public hearings were held to give tri-town residents opportunities to share their thoughts and any concerns about the projects.

Endless hours debating the safety of sod fields vs astroturf fields with health experts clarifying all the misinformation regarding alleged cancer-causing agents in the materials that would be used at Amity.

Hundreds of school athletic fields across the state and country have these fields with no documented health issues. Amity athletes play on these fields at away games all the time and no one ever complained of illness or injury from the field material.

The Referendum took place as scheduled with the following results

Recently, Woodbridge residents decided to fight back in order to get their way.

A small, but organized group of gadflies came together and spread the word that turf fields are deadly in many ways. •runoff would contaminate the underground water sources, •the shredded rubber causes cancer, etc, etc, etc, all arguments that were disproven during the public hearings last year.

They flooded the Town Planning and Zoning Commission with letters demanding that the project be rejected for those reasons and more.

On July 6, the Woodbridge TP&Z met online due to the COVID-19 restrictions on indoor gatherings and spent the evening reading the letters one after another until the chairman lost his voice. The meeting was continued until Monday evening, July 13.

Last night the Commissioners met online again and read letters from Woodbridge residents who opposed the plan and even some Orange residents who are in favor of it.

In the end, the facts won out over rumors and all other objections, and the original results of the December Referendum held strong.

Amity WILL have a new sports complex with a turf field. A groundbreaking will take place in the near future.

 

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