About five years ago, Jeanine Warns, president of Mattituck-Cutchogue Athletic Booster Club, approached the Mattituck School Board to request a new track for student athletes.
She found herself in a similar situation last Thursday, as she stood at a microphone to inquire about a turf field.
At the Board of Education meeting, Mattituck board members debated the benefits of a turf field replacing the current high school grass field.
Ms. Warns said she feels the field would benefit students in multiple ways, including socially and emotionally.
“I’m a therapist and I work with kids,” Ms. Warns said. “I can’t emphasize the importance of socialization, especially in the age of technology.”
Ms. Warns said maintaining a turf field would allow security to supervise students on the field since they’d have more home games. In the fall, the boys and girls soccer teams would be the main benefactor. And in the spring, it would be the boys and girls lacrosse teams.
“And we, the parents, would not have to worry about transportation concerns,” she said.
The prospect of the field came up later in the meeting when board member Doug Cooper gave a report from the Buildings, Safety, and Grounds committee.
“In my personal opinion, I think it’s crazy,” he said. “In an age of going green, that’s going plastic.”
Mr. Cooper said he’s concerned that the field would be used by teams that aren’t school-sponsored, like North Fork Lacrosse Club, who he said aren’t paying the district. He said it’s not the taxpayers responsibility to provide fields for programs outside of the district.
Board member MaryLynn Hoeg rebutted: “I’d have to say I think a lot of taxpayers are in favor of a field … A lot of high schools throughout Long Island are using them, and they’re very efficient.”
Board member Brian Mealy said he believes local organizations would support building the field.
“I know there’s a lot of community-minded organizations that have been supportive of the district and they will probably be supportive of building if we did do that,” he said.
Mattituck athletic director Gregg Wormuth suggested the board further discuss funding for the field at the next budget meeting.
“We’re going to talk about the Capital Reserve at every budget meeting, so they’ll be a lot of input from the board’s perspective, from the community perspective,” he said. “There are a lot of different opinions on this and we need to prioritize that.”
Board president Charles Anderson said he anticipates a lot of “debate coming up” regarding a turf field.
“There’s still a lot of information we need — mostly financially, to see where we stand,” he said.
Mr. Anderson said finances for the turf field, if approved by the public, would be placed in the Capital Reserve Fund, an account reserve for future construction projects and purchases in the district.
The Southold School District unveiled its new turf field in May 2018. The field was part of a $9.7 million capital bond project that voters approved in 2015 and also included a new track.
Mattituck’s track was unveiled in September 2014 with a ribbon cutting ceremony that drew more than 500 people.
A few turf field projects have been proposed near the school in recent years. The Mattituck Part District presented a plan in 2016 for a synthetic field at the Aldrich Lane park in Laurel. The much debated Sports East sports complex first proposed for Mattituck in 2015 also would have included turf fields. Neither have come to fruition.