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Dec 14, 2016 10:36 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

UPDATE: Sag Harbor Residents Reject Turf Field Proposal Wednesday

The voting booths set up at the Pierson Middle/High School for residents to vote on funds for the proposed turf field at the school on December 14. JON WINKLER
Dec 15, 2016 12:00 PM

UPDATE: Wednesday, 9:50 p.m.

The residents of Sag Harbor rejected plans to construct an artificial turf field at the Pierson Middle/High School on Wednesday, 1,016-135.

“Our community members came out to have their votes heard on this proposition,” Superintendent Katy Graves said at the Pierson Middle/High School gymnasium moments after the voting results were announced. “I want to thank the Sag Harbor community for taking the time to be a part of our school community. We saw that by seeing over a thousand members participate and they really had their voice heard today. This gives us the opportunity to move forward with the funding that we do have and we’re going to be putting on a proposition on Monday at the board meeting to move forward with a grass field. With this vote, we can now move forward to serve the children.”

“Trump and grass in the same year, both terrible!” said School Board member Stephanie Bitis.

“We’ve gone through this quite a bit for a number of weeks now and the public had their say tonight, so we’re going to be moving forward and we’re going to be having great fields next year,” said Board Vice President Thomas Schiavoni.

School Board President Diana Kolhoff referred to the voting results as “very decisive” and was pleased that the community made its stance on the controversial proposal clear. “Now I feel confident that we’re going to do what the community truly wants,” she said.

Ms. Kolhoff went on to say that the board will now determine what to do with the $1.45 million already authorized from a previous bond.

“Our plan is that we will ask the voters again if we can use that money to install two grass fields; one here at Pierson and a practice field at the elementary school,” she said. “I think everybody is at least on the same page that we want a safe, nice field for the kids as soon as possible.”

Board members said a new vote will take place on February 15 and they will go into further detail on their future plans at their next board meeting on Monday, December 19, at 7:30 p.m. at the Pierson Middle/High School library.

“This was a great turnaround by the village. The opponents of the turf didn’t take a personal stand or a political stand, they took an educational stand,” said local resident Robert Cohen.

ORIGINAL STORY:

The progress of an artificial turf field for the Sag Harbor School District will hang on the votes of community members Wednesday at the Pierson Middle/High School gymnasium from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Sag Harbor residents will vote on whether the School Board will be allowed to use an additional $365,000 from the capital reserve fund to complete funding for the district’s proposed turf field behind the Pierson Middle/High School.

The total cost of the field’s construction was estimated at $1.8 million by the board after a 5-percent contingency was added this month and new costs were added to the project’s budget in October, specifically the additional of a special kind of crumb rubber turf to be used on the field. The crumb rubber, known as Cool Fill, has a special chemical coating that prevents the rubber from heating up in high temperatures, causing heat to radiate from the field.

At its meeting on October 4, the School Board concluded that, while standard prices for using Cool Fill would be cheaper than the standard crumb rubber infill, the estimated budget would still increase due to the higher cost of transporting Cool Fill rubber out to Sag Harbor.

Parents and residents of Sag Harbor have vocalized safety concerns about the turf field at numerous school board meetings, citing the chemicals released in the air from heat breaking down the crumb rubber and possibly harming users of the field. If the vote allows the money to be used, the school board hopes to start construction of the field by summer 2017.

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Stephanie Bitis- School Board member. Interesting comment. Is she moving to Canada?
By realistic (468), westhampton on Dec 15, 16 8:35 AM
Stephanie seems to follow a trend, wonder how she voted? Passport?
By knitter (1895), Southampton on Dec 15, 16 9:52 AM
Ms Bitis, please refrain from voicing your political views as regards school board matters.
By auntof9 (157), Southampton on Dec 15, 16 11:28 AM
So health of children trumps (pun untended) $$$money! YAY !!!! Now we must STOP THE HILLS in East Quogue for the same reason....the health of our citizens. PGA golf course with pesticides, fungicides, nitrogen all entering our drinking water and bays!!! Wake up to the will of the people, Southampton Town Board!
By Taz (699), East Quogue on Dec 15, 16 12:18 PM
well done
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Dec 15, 16 9:14 PM
power tools, home improvements, building supplies, Eastern Long Island