A group of Northport-East Northport school district residents will be bringing their A-game to a new committee tasked with brainstorming ways to upgrade its athletic facilities.
The school board voted unanimously on Monday to appoint a group of 15 district residents who will roll up their sleeves and get to work on recommending repairs and projects.
Trustee Regina Pisacani spearheaded the creation of the Athletic Facilities Citizens Advisory Committee back in March in an effort she said was born out of community desire to do something about the district’s sports facilities.
“I hope to meet the needs the community wants for the district for the athletic fields and facilities,” Pisacani said in an interview with reporters at Monday night’s school board meeting. “There’s been a lot of disappointment in the state that things have gotten to and I hope to turn that around.”
The school board first approved the creation of the committee in March and tasked it with focusing on the inspection and evaluation of the present state of athletic facilities and grounds and deciding whether to rehabilitate or replace fields, equipment and facilities. It is also charged with reviewing, analyzing and summarizing the state of the district’s athletic facilities in a written report to the school board and creating a list in order of safety and importance of recommended repairs and/or replacements.
Other tasks of the group include determining the costs of the recommended repairs and analyzing outside funding opportunities to help pay for upgrades.
The resolution authorizing the group said the committee must present a five-year plan to identify priorities for the board by Dec. 14, 2015. It must also prepare a presentation for the 2016 budget meeting before the committee expires on June 30, 2016.
Earlier this year, parents lobbied the school board to seriously consider funding upgrades to the district’s facilities in the school’s budget. In January, 27 people emailed the school board on the issue with many saying they felt the current state of athletic facilities is “embarrassing” and in some cases “a safety hazard.”
Steve Kils, who wrote one of the letters, said at the time he was disappointed with the sports facilities, particularly at the high school.
“For example, lighted football/soccer/lacrosse/field hockey fields with either well-groomed grass or, preferably, artificial turf is the standard,” he said. “Our children are competing with others throughout the country with these basics, and I believe strongly that we need to make these upgrades a priority for our community and school district.”
Some parents echoed the desire to bring turf to the district.
“The children playing on these fields are putting themselves at risk of being injured due to lack of upkeep, and quite frankly, after visiting many high schools with gorgeous turf fields, it is quite an embarrassment to show off our overgrown, bumpy and lumpy, grass fields,” Michele Bica wrote at the time. “Please put this in your budget immediately… How many years do we have to sit by and wait (for something that would benefit many teams as well as the high school image) for you to make room for something as important as this in our budget.”
Pisacani said the first meeting of the committee is on June 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the school board conference room at the William J. Brosnan School building. The meeting is open to the public.