A feasibility study on artificial turf athletic fields in the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District will continue, even as the future of district buildings remains unsettled by an ongoing consolidation study.
During Tuesday’s meeting of the School Board, Brett A. Banker, supervisor of the district’s Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics, reported on the work of the Turf Feasibility Committee, which began roughly a year ago.
Banker is facilitator of the group, whose eight voting members include the school superintendent, two board members, two coaches, the director of the Town of Tonawanda’s Department of Youth, Parks & Recreation, and two community members who pitched the idea to the School Board in December 2010.
The health and safety of all physical education students and student-athletes is at the top of the committee’s mission, Banker said. But there also is potential for revenue from concessions, rentals and use in Section VI competition.
“We have seen neighboring Amherst, with a turf facility … bring in revenue … to help pay for that facility,” Banker said.
Within Ken-Ton, Banker said, there are 47 existing teams that could use new facilities – with potential future expansion of boys and girls lacrosse and rugby, as well as 10 outside clubs and leagues.
Drawings and photographs of the district’s two high school campuses were reviewed to determine whether a new facility would fit on either.
“Obviously, it does not fit at Kenmore East,” Banker said. “It’s a tight squeeze at Kenmore West High School.”
Late last month, committee members were asked to consider two options: stop their work until the findings of the district-wide consolidation study are released next spring, or continue their study and offer recommendations to the School Board on a location or locations for artificial turf facilities.
Six of eight members opted to continue. They were then asked to prioritize their site preferences.
Adams Field received five of six votes; one person voted for turf at a combination of locations: Adams, Crosby and one field each at the high schools. Only two people identified second priorities: casting one vote for Adams and one for the same combination.
The availability of state aid to pay for such facilities was a concern raised by School Board President Bob Dana and board member Jim Simmons. Historically, a project’s connection to a school building has been a requirement.
After Banker and the committee were directed to explore that issue, Dana added, “I would say forget about the ones that aren’t [aid-able].”
Simmons also asked how many other districts have artificial turf.
“We are starting to be surrounded by it,” Banker replied, naming several private schools as well as public districts.