The future: stadium lights at Meszaros
What will happen if the bond passes?
If the bond passes, district parents will soon discover that their children still don’t have enough playing time. Athletes can't play in the dark, and to get the best use of artificial turf, you need lights. Pressure to install stadium lights around Meszaros Field will build.
Within a year or two, the current board will change its mind about lights (as they are entitled to do), or a new board, whose members have not made an implicit promise to keep Meszaros light-free, will rent or install stadium lights. No member of the current board can make promises on behalf of future board members.
With lights come nighttime play, field rentals to Youth Leagues (which are always looking for fields), traffic, and reduced property values for Fieldpoint and Riverview neighbors.
From the FAQ page:
Does the district intend to install stadium lights at Meszaros Field?
Not at the moment.
However, grassrootsirvington believes that turf is the camel's nose in the tent.
The 2006 bond included funding for stadium lights. The lights were so unpopular that they may have been the single most important reason the bond failed. Until that time, no Westchester County school district had ever defeated a bond referendum for artificial turf.
The 2008 bond omitted stadium lights, but there was talk of purchasing mobile lights (which can also be rented). Mobile stadium lights generated no more enthusiasm amongst the neighbors than permanent lights had in 2006.
The current administration & board have also, at various point along the line, seen lights as desirable. The Fields Committee Report recommended installing conduits for lighting "for possible future use," (see p5) and grassrootsirvington is told that a majority of the board expressed positive views on the issue during early discussions.
As of September 2014, the superintendent tells us that the Board "currently" has no plans to install lights.
With a $2.25M budget surplus, the Board has more than enough money in the bank to install lights (estimated cost: $250K) without asking voters first. The Board runs a 4% budget surplus every year, which rises with the budget.
All 3 documents discuss stadium lights:
Fields Project Committee Report - Revised - 3.10.2014
Fields Project Committee Report - SLIDES - 3.10.2014
Fields Project Committee Report - Recap and Follow-up - 3.13.2014
If stadium lights aren't included in the referendum, does this mean the Board can't install lights?
The Board can install stadium lights any time three Board members wish to do so.
The Board cannot spend any of referendum money installing lights, assuming the referendum passes.
But the Board doesn't need money from the referendum to install lights. Stadium lights are relatively inexpensive: just $250K, according to the Fields Report. Rental lights, which can be set up in just a few minutes, may be less costly yet.
The district has the money on hand to fund lights out of its operating budget. The Board maintains a legal 4% budget surplus (currently $2.25M and rising); they can spend this sum at their discretion.
The upshot: the board is free to rent or install stadium lights without putting the issue to a public vote, and they have the money on hand to do so.
Future boards will enjoy the same discretion.
UPDATE: A registered civil engineer tells grassrootsirvington that installation of conduits and stadium lights at a future date should cost no more than installation of conduits today and lights later.
Lights should be installed away from the track and the bleachers, and electrical cables don't need to be run below the field. They can be run around the field.
Six of one, half dozen of the other.
Do you think the Board will decide to spend part of the 4% budget surplus on stadium lights?
That is anyone's guess.
Our prediction: once turf is installed, stadium lights will follow.
According to the Fields Committee, stadium lights dramatically expand playing time:
- 1 artificial turf field without lights = 2 to 3 natural grass fields
- 1 artificial turf field with lights = 4 natural grass fields
The way we see it: not too long after turf is installed, the board will perceive a need for lights.
Word will go out that play is "safer" with lights; a pro-lights committee will be convened to recommend lights; and the community will be presented with a census of peer districts that have lights now.
Then we'll have lights.
We'll have traffic because where there is turf with lights, Youth Leagues follow.
60-Foot Portable Stadium Lights:
I can see why the neighbors might not want stadium lights around Meszaros Field, but is there any reason other residents would feel the same way?
IUFSD voters tend to be community-minded people who want the district to treat its neighbors well.
The issue of the district's relationship with Riverview and Fieldpoint residents was important to many in both of the previous votes.