Nursery Field Donor Group Raises $2.9M, Meets Deadline to Advance Artificial Turf Plan

The donor group announced in a June 28 email to its supporters that it had reached its financial goal with days to spare.

artificial turf slated for nursery field
Photo/courtesy Canva
Published July 9, 2024 2:42 AM
3 min read

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Members of a local donor group offering to pay for plans to install artificial turf at Nursery Field have hit their target, raising the necessary capital ahead of last Monday’s city-imposed deadline. 

Let the Kids Play, a nonprofit also operating under the name Rye Youth Athletic Foundation, agreed to raise $2.9 million for the city to move forward with the highly controversial artificial turf project following a May 15 deal brokered with the City Council. The plan was contingent on the group meeting a July 1 deadline to come up with the funds.  

The donor group announced in a June 28 email to its supporters that it had reached its financial goal with days to spare, allowing the project to advance to the next stage. The group said it presented City Manager Greg Usry with a certified bank statement for the $2.9 million.  

“The Nursery Field Improvement Project is now moving to the next phase!!,” the email stated. “We could not have reached this point without the incredible perseverance and generosity of our community, which has been consistently committed to the belief that our kids deserve better opportunities for year-round, durable, outdoor field space.” 

The city manager confirmed in a memo to the City Council last week that the donor group had fulfilled its financial obligation.   

Usry said he received correspondence from the JP Morgan bank on June 26, confirming that the $2.9 million is being held in a JP Morgan Chase account. And he said he also received a certified bank statement showing $2,927,632 in an account titled Rye Youth Athletic Foundation.  

“Based upon these facts the Resolution requirement has been satisfied,” Usry wrote to the council.  

The long-debated project would transform the city-owned Nursery Field property into an artificial turf field for local youth sports teams. The site is currently a grass playing surface that faces rainouts and drainage issues. The cancellation rates at the field outpace any of the city’s other fields.  

The proposal ran into intense opposition from an array of community non-profits,  environmental groups, and other residents who have argued for maintaining the grass field while improving the drainage of the site.  

In April, a local group opposed to the project sued the city, looking to require the plan to go through more extensive regulatory channels. That lawsuit continues to make its way through the courts. 

Meeting the financial hurdle was only the beginning of the process. The city will now ready construction documents to put the turf project out to bid, according to Usry. He hopes to have the project out to prospective contractors by September, he told The Record.  

There is currently no timetable or cost for the project. Although a mid-October timeline had been previously floated, Usry said a more exact timeline will depend upon how long it takes to receive bids from contractors and to review and eventually award a contract to the lowest responsible bidder.  

The city is legally prohibited from doing any work on the site until August as outlined in the city’s 2002 purchase agreement of the property.  

The $2.9 million raised is tied to a years-old rough estimate of the project’s price tag. 

Meanwhile, the donor group continues to solicit donations hoping to safeguard against project cost overruns and invest in other future field improvements, according to the group’s email. The email said the group had received donations from more than 325 families, and linked to the list of donors.  

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