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Video: Athletics Supervisor Mamary Discusses Proposed Turf Field

Mamary said the lighted turf field would offer a safer environment for student athletes.

Westfield school district  Sandra Mamary said the faces of student athletes brighten when the topic of the proposed lighted turf field at Westfield High School comes up. 

The multi-purpose field is the district’s response to an increasing amount of participation in athletics, a trend that will presumably only continue given the expected student population bump. Mamary said the facility would increase capacity for athletic and physical education activity, allow for repeated field use without damaging the grounds, and alleviate what has become a nightmare scheduling situation.

At a Westfield Board of Education held in mid-May, the Board voted unanimously to approve a bond referendum that would fund the construction of a lighted artificial turf field at . (To view the PowerPoint Lighted Turf Field presentation, click here.

But the proposed synthetic playing ground hasn't been met with universal enthusiasm. For many Westfield residents, the sticking point is that the funding for the field, which will cost an estimated $3.3 million, has been bundled with proposed roof repairs, estimated to cost $13 million. Westfield residents will vote on that, if passed, would finance both expenditures, on Monday, September 24. 

While it has been argued by some residents that a necessity such as the roofs has been bundled with what they deem a luxury—the lighted turf field—Mamary said she believes the two are both important to the children of the Westfield school district.

"To me, the fact that we can't facilitate enough activity is an issue, and we should be able to," Mamary said. "Athletics and activity are a very important part of this town. This community takes health seriously. Being active means a healthy body and a healthy mind. We want children to be active and this will impact 80 percent of the children in Westfield. Everybody should be benefitting here."

Residents of the neighborhood surrounding the high school have expressed concerns that the proposed field, with seating for 540 and the capability to expand to accommodate up to 800, will bring bright lights, noise, and additional traffic to the area.

While she said it is not "concrete," Mamary suggested that the lights would be turned off by 9 p.m. She also said currently there are no plans to build any restrooms or locker rooms at the facility. 

"A concession stand would be great, but there are no plans; we're just taking it in steps," Mamary said. "Do we want to have it available to bring in revenue? Absolutely, but we have to figure out how to be neighbor-friendly at the same time. We're very mindful of the neighborhood and their feelings but we also are mindful of the best interest of the whole."

Mamary said compromises have been made in that a public announcement system will not be installed nor will noisemakers be utilized at the field. 

The athletics supervisor also noted that the cost to maintain natural grass fields was another factor that led the BOE and facilities committee to look to the turf option.

"You just can't keep up with maintaining grass fields with so much usage and increased demand," Mamary said. "You can pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into it but it's not financially sound. Clearly, a turf field is a safer environment. It is consistent. It can rain and an hour later you get to play on it right away. There are no holes, no rocks."

Mamary also added that between the school and the town, which owns the  turf complex, a machine to groom the field is already available, so a new one will not need to be purchased.

While the turf at is expected to exceed its life expectancy because it has been well-maintained, Mamary said, it will need to be replaced shortly. "I can't imagine that's less than five years away," she said.

Mamary added that the turf at Sid Fay/Houlihan will need to be replaced sooner, though that cost will be borne by the Town of Westfield.

With the bond referendum vote less than two months away, Mamary said she just wants to make sure residents have all the information.

"No matter which way they vote, that's their choice but I want all the information out there," she said. 

To hear more of Mamary's view on the field, watch the attached video.

This feature is just one in a multi-part series that explores the various views regarding the proposed field. Check back with Patch over the next several weeks for more on this issue. To see more on this topic, visit Patch's Lighted Turf Field Topic Page. 

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A.John Blake August 02, 2012 at 10:30 AM
It is interesting to note that, when faced with the complaint that the BOE bundled the necessary with what is considered a luxury, Ms. Mamary evaded the issue by declaring both the roofs and the turf field to be important."Important" is not the same as " necessary". Air is necessary. A four carat diamond ring is important. I have no doubt that the head of any academic department in the school system could give us a list of things they think would be important for the education of the students. When you balance a roof over the heads of the students against all these items, the roofs still come out necessary and the list as just important. There is only one viable and credible reason why these two items are in the same referendum. The BOE was afraid the voters would reject the luxury and give the Board only the necessary. Now the Board can argue that a negative vote will expose the children to leaky roofs etc. Did you notice that Ms. Mamary did not give the estimate for the repair/replacement of the Kehler turf field.She was quick to talk about the money spent on the maintenance of grass, but did not give a price on the maintenance of Kehler. Is that another Bond issue? A.John Blake
Holden McGroin August 02, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Im Holden Mc Groin and I am fed up with this A John Blake already- What happened to you as a child that makes you hate everything that gets suggested for our kids and town- Sure we all want to be financially smart- that is true- but you spit on everything that is ever recommended- Where are your suggestions? Have you ever played any sport other than compaining?
Carol Koza August 02, 2012 at 02:22 PM
First of all I support the idea of a Turf field for Westield- Any parent that has seen the beautiful fields in our surrounding towns will certainly support having this available for our kids and more importantly for the market value of our homes. It seems to me that those people who live near the High School should get a first hand look at what the lighting would be like- is it possible to put up a temporary light stand to show the locals that their homes will not be lit- that these lights, as we have been told, will not spill into their streets? Just a thought.
Matt Thies August 02, 2012 at 02:27 PM
With all due respect to Mrs. Mamary- this video has to be a joke. Where is the video of the damaged roofs- that is what I would have rather seen than this .. If you want me to vote for something you have to show me- not tell me
Pops Ferguson August 02, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I suggest you stay abreast of this ongoing controversy.
Holden MaGroin August 02, 2012 at 03:09 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and I'm flattered. However I would like to point out that Patch readers should accept no substitute. I am and have been for over 2 years been Holden MaGroin. You would not go to MaDonalds so I would ask that you do not embrace Mc Groin. My guess is he has soggy fries.
WF Parent August 02, 2012 at 07:16 PM
What a joke! Why can't kids be active, and therefore why can't we fight obesity, on a grass field? How much does it cost to maintain the lights and the turf field? The turf field will have to be replaced in 8-10 years, and then replaced in another 8-10 years. How are we going to pay for that. Agreed, the student population keeps growing - how are we going to accommodate them in the current classrooms? We're going to run out of space. And we are going to need to hire more teachers. I guess the BOE can always issue another bond for that... Her philosophy is to be neighbor friendly? What a joke. None of the neighbors of the high school, the overburndened neighbors, want the lights, or the turf field. Spend OUR money on something we NEED.
Holden McGroins Brother August 02, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Hey are the crutches in the video for the turf field?
I Still Vote NO! August 02, 2012 at 09:11 PM
I couldn't stomach to watch the whole video but what I learned from the first minute or so is that if we don't put a turf field in at the high school we will have a bunch of fatty little kids running around because they won't have anywhere to excercise. I still am voting no and this video reinforces my vote.
Pete August 02, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Property values are affected by a turf field? Don't be so ridiculous. Property values are adversely affected by real world factors like the fact the town doesn't maintain or even sweep the streets.
Wally Westfield August 02, 2012 at 09:34 PM
I love the fatty kid excuse. I drove through Tamaques Park last Sunday afternoon around 2:30 PM, of all the fields and open areas only 1 group of 4 kids were using the park. I guess the kids of Westfield need professional conditions to excercise, give me a break. Perhpas too many of them are on Ms Brown's websites...........
South Westfielder August 02, 2012 at 09:59 PM
I will also be voting "no". It is a shame, too because we need the roofs.
South Westfielder August 02, 2012 at 10:03 PM
It is difficult to understand how anyone could call artificial turf fields "beautiful". I don't believe they will have any impact housing prices, but they are as beautiful as those plastic pink flamingoes on yards. Really, you think these fields are beautiful? They look like outdoor carpet in an unnatural shade of blinding green.
Dennis Driscoll August 03, 2012 at 03:09 AM
I am not necessarily opposed to the turf field, the lights are another item. Which high school field sport plays until 9pm? From what we learned at a June meeting, the BOE has the option of removing items from the upcoming vote and refuses to do so. This indicates to me that the roof repairs are not necessary. Vote NO
Westfield Taxpayers August 03, 2012 at 04:29 PM
This is too much debt and too much spending! We simply cannot afford this at a time when our economy is in a depression. $16.3 Million dollars??? BOE should focus on EDUCATION, not creating power plants and unnecessary sports arenas. This is unreasonable wasteful spending!
Walkin Westfield August 04, 2012 at 02:50 AM
The WHS student population plateaued in 2006, there is no need to waste millions of dollars to resurface an existing field.
Walkin Westfield August 04, 2012 at 04:52 AM
the boe's insistence on wasting millions of dollars on placing a plastic carpet over an existing field while Westfield education stagnates will erode resident's support of public schools just as the corrupt politicians have eroded faith in the government
Walkin Westfield August 04, 2012 at 05:09 AM
where is the skate park or indoor pool for the students. the schools do not lack playing fields the school lacks honest and creative leadership
Ghost of FDR August 04, 2012 at 11:25 AM
Don't use the word Depression unless you know what the F you are talking about- Now 1932--that was a Depression- and I came up with the NEW Deal to help- Im sorry but get your facts straight- don't just throw shi$% out there to fit your side of the story- Things are not great- true- but its not even technically a recession- just a weak economy- which doesn't mean sit still- which the fatty kids are doing all day- Build the Turf Field- Vote Yes! and Vote for FDR!
Walkin Westfield August 04, 2012 at 03:47 PM
just a weak economy, LOL, what is your prescription fdr? that the economy can be inflated with millions of debt based government wasteful spending. Any child will tell you that they prefer to play on natural grass. The only thing gained by putting plastic over the natural grass is trapping more heat and pushing the mercury higher.
Lorraine Mormile August 04, 2012 at 05:23 PM
FYI http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tips/artificialturf.htm
Walkin Westfield August 04, 2012 at 06:31 PM
the boe and mamary are not doing their job if they have not had the existing plastic turf fields tested for lead. the boe should contact the state department of health and environment about appropriate sampling collection and analytic methods.
Enchanted August 05, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Maybe the kids should walk to school to get some exercise.We would solve the parking also. I do not think we need a fancy field for kids to exercise. A lot of people have to do without a lot now a days.It is about time the BOE learns that also
South Westfielder August 05, 2012 at 02:47 AM
A. John, you could have worked on coming up with better analogies.I do not consider4 carat diamond rings as being important (materialistic and shallow, but not important). I agree with your assessment of the turf, the lights and the roofs, but it sounds like you don't have or never had kids in the system. Are you just angry that you are paying for something that you personally have not benefitted from (except for the positive impact the school system here has on on your property value?
Walkin Westfield August 05, 2012 at 02:52 AM
mamary, westfield's traditional power house is swimming, where is your support building an indoor pool for the school? instead of wasting millions of dollars putting a plastic carpet over an existing grass lets build an indoor pool for the school.
buzz August 09, 2012 at 08:00 PM
My concern is the bond proposal will state money for the roofs and the lighten/turf field, but not separate the cost of each. So an uniformed voter might say roofs are necessary and what can the field cost? a few thousand dollars? But it cost $3.3 million. If the BOA was willing to clearly list the cost of the field in the bond proposal I would have less distant how they are trying to camouflage the cost issue. This is a ruse to trick the taxpayers into passing money for the field by dovetailing it with the roof. I will vote NO because it should be separate bonds. Hopefully it fails and we taxpayers send a message to the BOA. Then they can make another proposal for roofs. If they get away with this I believe this will be their mode of process to sneak in other wasteful spendings.
buzz August 09, 2012 at 08:03 PM
opps that is 'distain' not distant
buzz September 06, 2012 at 04:08 PM
I have the mail in ballot in hand and it says $16.9 million for roofs and field. Fails to alert the voter at the polling booth the cost of each. Clearly the Board it trying to sneak the field cost through.
Kathy Favro September 21, 2012 at 11:33 AM
Kathy Favro, I have lived in this town for 30 years. My son attended boarding school because he was a hockey player and Westfield did not have the sport program he needed to play Div 1 in college. I did not expect the town of Westfield to put a rink in the school. I think Westfild should concentrate on education. If you want every bell and whistle for your kid, send them to a private school. I do not ask you to pay for my kid and I do not want to pay for for yours.

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