Field lights will be back next fall at New Hope-Solebury
Board hires architect to develop master plan
The New Hope-Solebury School Board has approved the hiring of Architerra to study the lighting situation and agreed to turn the field lights back on.
The board had voted in September to discontinue lighting the high school fields next fall.
At a special meeting Monday, the school board, complete with a solicitor, Kristine Roddick of King, Spry, Herman, Freund and Faul, and a stenographer in place next to secretary Stuart Perrone, faced an auditorium filled with parents, students and residents with concerns about last month’s vote.The agenda contained two items. The first was a Resolution to support the idea in the 2010 Master Plan that a second stadium field is to be built on Field 13 after a plan is developed by David Horn of Architerra Architects at a cost not to exceed $14,460.
The first “whereas” of the resolution connects the field with the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX, the second references the 2010 Master Plan and designation of the field as the optimum spot for lights and the third paragraph describes “significant community support,” indicating a clear intention to raise the funds from private sources for a new stadium field with a confirmed initial commitment of $360,000.
The second agenda item was a recommendation that the board rescind the vote of Sept. 16 to turn off the lights after the 2013-2014 sports season.
Board discussion found Kurt Zander enthusiastically in support of developing the field with private funding.
Board member Valerie Mitchell applauded the intent of private citizens to fund the endeavor but wondered what happens down the road when funding ends. She asked to know the ongoing cost of maintenance.
Jon Adar said from the board that though the board keeps talking about getting back to education, playing on teams is also educational.
Sharing Mitchell’s concerns about future funding, Joseph Harraka clarified the motion on the table as limited to the hiring of Architerra and the creation of plans with which private funding may be sought.
He emphasized his belief that the district has a stadium field and taxpayers should not be asked to fund another. Susan Atkinson told other members that Dr. Boccuti’s explanation of the resolution made it clearer for her that nobody needs to raise $3 million for the project to move forward.
Commenting on the opportunity for private funding, Vice President Marlene Panzica warned that many plans have come forward but the district has no money to follow through. She continued by talking about classrooms that need fixing.
President Amanda Elefante, giving a brief history of the stadium field and what teams were allowed to use it said that the field is lighted for 50 percent of the games and the sound system is in use for 75 percent. She called the resolution a “no brainer.”
The board was divided on the future of Field 13 and whether NH-S needs another stadium field. By the end of board discussion most agreed that potential donors need a tangible long-range plan in hand to justify the investment. The board concede that the field project will proceed in stages depending on cash on hand.
One of those speaking from the public reminded the board that the building of the stadium with the offending lights was supposed to be entirely privately funded but the district ultimately had to ante up $325,000 to finish it.
Many members of the public spoke including students. There were some moments of animosity from the audience towards residents of the development behind the field to whom the lights and sound are disruptive to family peace.
Some residents of Riverwoods said they had no complaints.
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