Monday, August 31, 2015

Mayor Drew Calls for Special Council Meeting on Artificial Turf Bond

Good morning councilmembers,
There has been constructive discussion this week regarding how we balance a natural grass approach to field construction with the growing demand for those fields amongst the sports programs. I am writing today to share with you a compromise that will increase field capacity, keep grass fields, and save taxpayers money from the original proposal.
As you are aware, designing and building grass fields is less expensive than turf, which begged the question of whether it would be appropriate to request a bond authorization that included funds for artificial turf fields when that additional money wasn’t necessary.
Additionally, one of the benefits of turf fields was the ability to meet higher demand from our athletic community. The parks bond proposal — even with its amendment requiring the use of grass only — provides a variety of benefits beyond new athletic fields of which we should not lose sight: new walkways, new ¼ mile track, tennis courts, bike trails, playgrounds, splash pads, a public pool, new crew docks, and a variety of other improvements throughout the city. This is a once-in-a-generation project that will benefit our children and theirs for decades to come.
The concern from some following the vote to remain with grass fields was that the supply and demand problem we currently face would not be alleviated by simply reconstructing the existing nine fields mentioned in the report.
I would be loathe to jeopardize all of the public benefits in this plan by asking for a bond authorization higher than what would be necessary to carry out those improvements.
Therefore, I am calling a special meeting of the Common Council at 6 p.m., on Wednesday, September 2, 2015 to consider and act upon the following:
1. A reduction in the bond ordinance from $36.95 million to $33.45 million. This is a savings of $3.5 million. The reduction to this number was recommended by Milone and Macbroom — the engineering firm that conducted the parks study.

2. The inclusion in the bond ordinance of language that gives us the ability to add new grass fields on any public or school property deemed appropriate by a building committee. Milone and Macbroom believes we can build up to six additional grass fields that will enable us to meet our demand while saving $3.5 million.

3. A revision to the resolution authorizing a referendum question to reflect the aforementioned changes.
This means that we can build more grass fields than turf fields to meet demand and do so for less money. These changes will do three major things that will benefit our community:
1. Save the taxpayers $3.5 million in bonded debt
2. Give us up to six additional playing fields, which Milone and Macbroom says will meet the capacity needs of our leagues
3. Enable us to ensure that all fields are grass and that they are properly constructed with appropriate drainage and irrigation systems that will make the maintenance process easier and less expensive in the long run
We will have more grass fields for less money, ensuring that our parks bond is environmentally and fiscally sustainable while meeting and exceeding the needs of our community’s sports leagues.
Meeting warrants will be forthcoming this afternoon. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Respectfully,

Mayor Daniel Drew

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