Reminder for all Nyack school district residents: Tomorrow, Oct. 29 is the districtwide bond referendum on a $26.4 million proposed overhaul of buildings, grounds and security systems.
With a majority “yes” vote, the district would issue $21.4 million in bonds and use $5 million in capital reserves for the project. The project includes money for a controversial new synthetic turf field and as part of an athletic facilities makeover.
Head over to the Nyack schools homepage for polling places and hours, details on the tax impact of the spending proposal, a photo gallery of the projects, a Q&A and more.
And follow me on Twitter tomorrow night, @MareesaNicosia, and check the homepage, www.lohud.com, for coverage of the vote.
Below is my story from Sept. 20:
School repairs proposal revives Nyack ‘turf war’
NYACK — A community debate over artificial turf fields has been revived as the Nyack school district mulls a $26.4 million overhaul of its buildings, grounds and security systems.
If residents give their blessing on Oct. 29, the district will issue $21.4 million in bonds that would be repaid over 15 years, with the remaining $5 million covered by capital reserves.
The project would replace aging boilers, roofs and windows; overhaul the fire-alarm system; install air conditioning in the high school auditorium and music room; and upgrade technology.
It would also spend $470,750 to ramp up overall security with the installation of 98 security cameras in five buildings; the ability to connect cameras to local police; reinforcement film to prevent windows from shattering; access card readers for exterior doors and more. Many school districts are enhancing security in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings.
But the discussion at the Nyack Center this week, the first of three public information sessions, was less on security than on the $7.7 million included for a new 2,000-seat grandstand, concession building and 8-lane track that would surround a new artificial-turf field at the high school. Synthetic turf would replace several dirt fields that are in disrepair and allow the district to consolidate all varsity sports to the high school campus.
The safety, environmental impact, durability and cost of artificial turf has been the subject of debate for years. Several parents have urged the district to split the bond so voters can support the building and security upgrades without supporting the fields project.
“Whose interests are you serving when you put out a bond saying that you can’t have anything unless you have this artificial turf?” parent Rick Tannenbaum asked at Tuesday’s session. “Why do you have to hold a fire alarm hostage to an artificial-turf stadium?”
Tannenbaum and his wife, Tina Traster, were among the staunchest opponents of a $16.5 million bond that was overwhelmingly defeated in 2007. That plan would have raised taxes to pay for upgrades to the fields as well as new roofs, windows, electrical and security systems.
This time around, district officials have promised that the new debt would replace retiring bonds and result in no property-tax increase. Schools Superintendent James Montesano said state aid would cover more than 37 percent of costs. Bonding the building repairs also frees money in the general fund, some 8.5 percent of which now goes to capital improvements, he said.
Montesano said the board examined dividing the bond issue but decided against it, in part to address the “collective needs of the student body.”