School board hears pro field comments

While Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board members heard a lot of negative comments regarding turf fields during the January work session two weeks ago, the Jan. 28 meeting included comments from residents who like the idea.

The board is scheduled to vote on the long-range plan — including whether or not to include two new turf fields — during the regular meeting on Feb. 25.Jeff Almeda, of Pocopson Township, said he wants the board to accept the option that accelerates the facilities upgrade.

“This applies specifically to the turf field complexes because that’s what I think is needed most and will benefit our students the most... I’d support even more spending for our school facilities,” he said.

Almeda said such spending is an investment in students' ability to achieve, and that upgrading the fields is a “dire need.”

He added that he has children involved in school sports and said the new fields would allow them to get home sooner so the family can have dinner together.

Almeda said those opposing the idea are more concerned about money.

“As best I can tell from the people opposed so strongly to these turf fields, and complain about it, they don’t have the best interest of the students in mind, they have the best interest of their pocketbooks in mind,” he said.

Middle school student Olivia Cates also spoke in favor of the fields, saying she plays field hockey and lacrosse and that turf fields would help “boost competitiveness and how well our teams are playing. We need a good facility for that.”

She added that better fields would boost the students' enjoyment of playing their sports.

“You don’t want them missing practices because of muddy fields. You don’t want them out because they fell on an uneven field and hurt their ankle. You want the students to enjoy what they want to do and what makes them happy,” she added.

District resident Drew Hoffman said the proposal was “well thought out” and said he agreed with Almeda that the plan should be accelerated.

Newlin Township resident Holly Friedman, who is also the president of the marching band booster club, said new fields are a matter of safety.

“To have them practice in the parking lot is a major issue for me as a parent as cars drive through. It’s also not big enough for a major field show to adequately practice.”

Having more turf fields would provide more space for everyone to practice, she said.

The lone new voice speaking against the proposed fields was that of Marsha Manzone, of Pocopson Township, a 2013 Unionville High  School graduate. She said she was a member of the marching band. She said she never had any problems practicing in a parking lot but did have issues on turf fields when pieces of the turf would get into shoes.

“It caused some nasty rug burns. The little — I call them turf turds — tire bits got in your shoes and was terribly uncomfortable. I now work in a medical office. The other day we had a patient with incredible turf burns. They were so bad they were scarring up and down her legs,” Manzone said.

She continued by saying the turf was “unbearably hot” in the summer. “It was much better when we had our practices at Chadds Ford Elementary where we had real grass to practice on.”

School Board Director Gregg Lindner said he would be out of the country when the board votes next month but would be on the phone to cast his vote. He read a statement giving his opinion. He said most of the comments he has received have been positive.

“It’s important to hear views that are different from the ones I hold, especially if they’re done in a respectful fashion. Respectful, however, would not be how I characterize all of the commentary from those opposed to initial spending on the grounds plan,” he said.

Lindner later continued saying he supports “wholeheartedly” the planning for the fields and “I’d like to do that as quickly as possible. I support the borrowing for a second turf field, leaving the timing and placement for when it can be done to the recommendation of the administration”

Fellow Director Vic Dupuis said the board has heard from credible and reliable sources that favor building the new turf fields, as well as similar sources with opinions on the safety of those fields.

He said the physical education program, especially at the middle school, is limited by the lack of more fields. Dupuis said one of the reasons for that is because the board hasn’t funded a larger gym for C.F. Patton Middle School, which shares grounds with the high school.

“Having turf fields outside the door to expand opportunities, we think, is a valuable academic addition,” Dupuis said, adding that the turf fields are not as dependent on good weather as grass fields and outperform grass.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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One Response to “School board hears pro field comments”

  1. George Pellegrino says:

    One large issue is that nets are needed on the JV baseball field. The JV cannot play a game if there is something going on at the track because of safety issues with balls being hit over the backstop. Nets are cheaper than turf fields.

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