by Dave Zornow
Nyack, Sept 16 — On Tuesday night Nyack Schools will present the details behind a $26.7 million bond referendum scheduled for Oct 29. The public will be asked to approve new spending to install artificial turf on the district’s athletic fields and upgrade or replace outdated computer technology, boilers, roofs, windows and doors throughout the district.
The Sept 17 meeting at the Nyack Center is the first of three public presentations by the school district on the bond issue. The October 2 and October 16 sessions will be at Nyack High School. All meetings will begin at 7:30p.
Nyack High School Athletic Fields’ Improvements
- New eight lane track
- New synthetic turf infield. Used for
- Boy’s And Girl’s Lacrosse
- Field Hockey
- New Resilient Surface D-Zones With Jumping Events
- New Four Pole Athletic Lighting
- New 2000 Seat Bleacher System Including Press Box And Audio System New Concessions Building
Upper Field One
- Striped For Boy’s And Girl’s Lacrosse And Soccer
- New Four Pole Athletic Lighting
- Five New 50 Seat Portable Bleachers
Upper Field Two
- New Synthetic Turf Field Hockey Field
- New Synthetic Turf Baseball Field
- New Natural Grass Softball Field
- Four Pole Athletic Lighting
When the board of education convenes on Tuesday night at the Nyack Center, their first order of business will be to rescind a contentious initiative to turn the front lawn of Upper Nyack Elementary School into a pickup and drop off area for students. Supporters of the bond were surprised to find this item included in the proposal, and public comments at last week’s board meeting strongly opposed this idea.
School officials say they can pay for the bond without any tax increases because the new bond obligations will replace older bonds which have been paid off. “By phasing in the new debt over several years as the old debt is retired, there will be no budget to budget increase or tax levy increase resulting from the new debt,” say school officials. If approved, the projects will be funded by the $26.7 million bond and an additional $5 million from the school district’s Capital Reserve Fund.
Despite the opportunity to upgrade facilities without incurring higher taxes, there is strong opposition to the bond — particularly the proposal to replace natural grass with artificial turf.
“I am leaning more and more toward not being able to support the artificial turf,” says Matthew Schlanger. The South Nyack parent says that he’s uncomfortable with installing fake grass at the high school and is concerned about its long term impact on the environment and student athletes. “I don’t think this is a healthy or safe choice. I am hearing from other parents, whose children are the star athletes of the next generation, about their concerns around safety.” Schlanger says that if the best argument for artificial turf is that you can host more events with lower maintenance, that’s not a compelling reason to change. “It’s more expensive, not environmentally sound and it needs to be replaced every 8-10 years. Worst of all they are clearly dangerous to our children’s health,” he says. Last week Schlanger started the Nyack School Bond Facebook group which now has 133 members. Although only about a dozen people are speaking out online, few are supporting the bond. The main reason people say they will vote against the bond is their concern about replacing natural grass with artificial turf.
About 40 community member and staff volunteers as well as professional consultants worked on the recommendation to the Board of Education to proceed with the bond initiative. The district says these improvements are not possible to achieve through the normal budget process. A previous bond proposal seven years ago, which included an artificial turf initiative, was turned down by the public.
Here is a list of items included in the bond proposal, excerpted from a presentation prepared by the Nyack School District:
- Replace Fire Alarms in all buildings and install supplemental emergency lighting
- Upgrade or replace existing boilers in all five school buildings
- HVAC improvements including replacing Middle and High School rooftop AC units for the auditorium, cafeteria, band room and DaVinci Center.
- Replace the roof at Nyack High SChool, Middle School and Upper Nyack Elementary
- Replace exterior doors and windows throughout the district
- Install a “visitor management system” for improved security which will compare drivers licenses to national offender database.
- Additional video cameras and ID card readers
- Wireless Internet in all buildings and increased bandwidth via Cat-6 cable upgrades
- Upgraded athletic fields and facilities