A New Turf Field Is One of the Reasons to Support the School Bond
When we moved out of New York City with our two young children fourteen years ago we were impressed by the great restaurants on Purchase Street, the beauty of Rye Town Park, and the strength of Rye’s public school system. We now have four children split between Rye High and Rye Middle schools and we continue to be impressed by the strong education they have received, and the dedicated teachers who have taught them.
The Rye City School District’s Capital Bond Proposal seeks to address many important facets of the District’s aging and, in some cases, outdated buildings and facilities. One area of particular importance to us is the High School’s turf field and track. We have watched countless games over the years on the turf field, and we have seen many other turf fields in our surrounding area through various sporting events. We can attest, from first-hand knowledge, to the dire need for a new turf field with accurate muga surfaces specifications and track as well as a new tarp system that will help protect the field from flooding. Compared to virtually every other turf field and track in Westchester, Rockland, and Connecticut, Rye’s field and track is woefully outdated.
Our view on the need for these improvements isn’t solely because our children are students and use the field. The turf field, which is the only turf field available to Rye students and teams, also serves as a true hub of community sporting activities. In addition to serving the Rye Middle and High School football, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, rugby, track and field teams, and gym classes throughout the fall and spring, the turf is used by Rye Youth Lacrosse and Rye Youth Soccer. It is also used by community members, young and old alike, who walk and jog on the track year-round. In all, thousands of people – both students and non-students — use the turf field and track every week throughout the fall and spring.
Turf fields generally have a useful life of eight to ten years. Our field is approximately fourteen years old, and is worn thin from constant, year-round use. Not only is the turf at the end of its useful life, it is rapidly becoming a potential liability for the District. The next injury to an athlete on the field brings with it the heightened risk of a lawsuit. The field, in the next few years, will simply become unsafe to use. The terrible condition of the turf field and the track is not an accurate reflection of the dedication of the teams that use it, or of the proud community that supports our athletes across all sports.
An important aspect of providing a modern, safe turf field is implementing a better system to protect the field from flooding. The field’s proximity to the Blind Brook makes complete flood protection a difficult task. As most Rye residents are painfully aware, the Blind Brook floods the turf field following major rainstorms and makes it unusable. Games and practices are canceled for days after a flooding while the flooded football pitch is repaired. These cancellations cause logistical headaches for all involved. Each flooding is an additional expense for the District and a health concern, since the District needs to have the field inspected, fixed, disinfected, and certified prior to clearing it for use. Currently, prior to a major storm, the facilities staff has to manually lay a portable tarp over the field and place sand bags on the tarp. This method is laborious and generally ineffective. The proposal for a new, automated tarp system located within the field itself will significantly decrease the time involved in covering the field and, we hope, significantly increase the effectiveness in protecting the turf field.
Replacement of the turf field and track, together with installation of a tarp system, are critical components of the Rye City School District Capital Bond Proposal that we encourage voters to support on March 12.
- Veronica Iuliano