As early as this fall, construction of a turf field could begin on the western side of the Mattituck High School property. It’s something the district does not have but numerous other Suffolk school districts — including Southold — do.
The proposal, which is on next month’s school district ballot, includes a walkway, fence, bleacher pad and fenced-in dugout. This would be a major upgrade for the school, and one that voters should support when they weigh in on the district’s $40.7 million budget for the 2019-20 academic year.
Voters will see when they eye the budget in May that there are three propositions to consider. The first is the budget itself. The second proposition, at approximately $2 million, addresses safety and security upgrades along with air conditioning within the district.
The $1.6 million turf field is the third proposition. Importantly, the turf field and the security upgrades — if approved by voters — will be funded through the district’s $3.75 million capital reserve fund. This means no new money will be taken from taxpayers’ pockets if the budget is approved.
We generally loathe the “do it for the kids” mantra that some start chanting every year at school budget time, as if whatever is on the ballot you should enthusiastically vote “yes” on because it’s all good for the kids in the district. Better to think first, then vote, and avoid the clichés that crop up at this time every year. Money is money, and spending wisely what comes from the taxpayers is what we expect from the people we elect to school boards and town and village governments.
That said, voting “yes” on these three propositions is a winner all around — for the district, for all students and for teachers and staff. It goes without saying that safety and security upgrades are essential these days. That can’t be disputed in a country where some believe their “right” to own military-style assault weapons and oversized magazines trumps a child’s right to be safe in school.
We believe that providing a modern turf field for soccer and lacrosse players at no additional cost to the taxpayers is a good thing. It’s also a positive that a generous community member has promised to donate $200,000 to the district to offset its cost.
But we must point out that the funds in the capital reserve also come from the taxpayers. So it’s up to the board to spend that money wisely, too. We feel this expenditure is a wise use of that money.
On the environmental side of this issue, a turf field presents some advantages. It will conserve water and, because it’s made from recycled tires, it reduces the need for pesticides and copious amounts of fertilizer. Having a turf field for all the soccer teams alone will reduce stress on the natural grass fields at the school.
All around, a “yes” vote on all three propositions is good for the district.