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No football team for Eden but district moves forward on turf and lights

Eden High School didn’t have enough players to field a varsity football team this year, but the district’s School Board has taken another step toward a $22.15 million capital project that includes an artificial turf field and lights for night games.

Board members Wednesday night declared the district as the lead agency on the environmental review for the capital project, and also heard a presentation about the proposed artificial turf field with lighting. The lighting would be used not only for football but soccer, lacrosse and field hockey.

The capital project also emphasizes technology and security improvements. The district this summer decided to cancel its varsity football program for the season after not being able to recruit enough players. Instead, current varsity-level players from Eden are playing for the Lake Shore team. Noting Eden is fielding a strong junior varsity team, district officials are hoping to field a varsity team next school year.

District officials over the past year have discussed both phases of the capital project, as follows:

• First phase (Proposition 1) – $12.25 million for technology enhancements, more secure entrances and renovations to cafeterias, restrooms, offices, classrooms and music rooms; moving sixth-graders to the junior-senior high school to create a middle-high school.

• Second phase (Proposition 2) – $9.9 million for installing the artificial turf, gymnasium upgrades in all schools and art, music and technology enhancements.

Superintendent Sandra Anzalone believes an artificial turf field would lower the district’s cost, provide a safer playing surface and allow earlier use in the spring.

Mowing a grass field is considered costly, and artificial turf also lets teams practice in March and April because snow melts and drains more quickly.

Every spring, district athletes use the artificial turf field at North Collins Junior-Senior High School because Eden’s field is covered with snow.

“We can’t get out on our fields until the snow melts,” Anzalone said.

Safety also factored heavily in the proposal.

“We feel it’s safer,” she said. “All the studies show the impact is safer on turf than it is on hard-pack grass.”

The lighting will be angled so it doesn’t illuminate nearby properties.

Board members plan to vote on both propositions when they meet next at 7 p.m. Oct. 21 in the junior-senior high school cafeteria. If the board authorizes the project, it will conduct a public information meeting Dec. 9 and schedule a referendum for Dec. 15.

Construction would get underway about June 1, 2017.