After a tabled motion at the last MAPS board meeting regarding a turf field, a motion was passed last Monday night to allow the solicitation of pledges from community members.
The Montague Athletic Boosters will solicit pledges for the roughly $700,000 they will need to put artificial turf on the football field.
At the MAPS board meeting on Monday, Nov. 26, the board discussed granting Athletic Director/Assistant Principal Ken Diamond the approval to solicit funds for a new turf field. Diamond gave a presentation at October’s board meeting, and a motion was made to allow Diamond to seek funding for turf, but the motion was tabled due to lack of a detailed plan.
Diamond came back to this meeting with answers to many of the questions the board asked at the last meeting.
Originally, Diamond had said he would go out in the community and seek funds, but he has now put the boosters in charge of that task. Also, instead of seeking funding right away, the boosters will seek pledges to see if there is enough interest in the project. If the boosters do not receive $700,000 or more in pledges in 6-9 months, they will not continue with the project.
When the question of where the money will come from to replace the field in roughly 12-15 years, Diamond suggested that the money that would have been spent on maintenance with a natural turf field be placed in a fund for the replacement of the artificial turf, which would be roughly $420,000. The school currently pays around $20,000 per year in maintenance, but with a turf field they would only cost $5,000 per year to maintain.
Both Lee Suits, board president, and Board Secretary Cindy Francis were concerned that if there is that large amount of money out in the community, that it should be used for something else, such as a librarian. Diamond responded by saying that the turf field would bring in more revenue to the school by hosting more events, which could in turn be used for something such as a librarian.
Suits also brought up the point that there have been two failed millages regarding this issue.
Board Treasurer Dick Hunt stated that those millages failed because not everyone wanted to have their taxes increased for a turf field.
“Only people who want the field will pay,” Hunt stated.
Suits told the board and audience that she felt conflicted with this issue.
“I feel bad for the band, young people and football team that can’t use it like they want, but if we have that kind of money out there, why can’t we use it for a librarian?,” Suits asked.
Francis told the board that she has talked to several members of the community and that while it will technically be the Montague Athletic Boosters asking for donations, community members believe it is the MAPS asking for the money.
“It sends the wrong message,” Francis said. She suggested that a group outside of the school be in charge, not the boosters because while they do have their own fund and are technically a group separate from MAPS, people perceive them as part of MAPS.
After much discussion, a motion was made for approval for the athletic boosters to seek out pledges to pursue turf for the football field. The vote was close, only passing with a 4-3 majority. Hunt, Stark, Judy Near and Blair Moreau all voted yes, while Suits, Francis and Bruce Carroll all voted against the motion.