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Field usage fees proposal expected

Field usage fees proposal expected

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An ad hoc advisory committee created to recommend management strategies and usage fees for the town’s new synthetic turf fields will present its final recommendations to the Board of Education at its November meeting. 

The committee was formed in late-March to “discuss, review and offer suggestions to the Board of Education on field usage, field charges, access to fields and financial planning for replacement of the fields in approximately 10 years,” according to third selectman Sally Buemi, who serves on the ad hoc committee. 

Buemi said among the final suggestions for signage and specific accessibility rules for the two fields, the committee will propose usage fees to charge both in-town and out-of-town private leagues by the hour. 

“We’re allowing non-school teams to play on (the turf fields), but we’re going to be covering costs so that the Board of Education budget is not impacted by allowing these teams to play,” Buemi said. 

Buemi said the proposed fees for an out-of-town group are around $175 an hour without using the field’s lights and around $250 an hour with lights.

The rates for in-town private groups are still being determined, but would only be to cover usage costs. School-related teams will not require any fees. 

The committee will also give recommendations for financing future replacement of the fields in about eight to 10 years. 

Replacement could be anywhere between $800,000 and $1.3 million, Buemi said. 

First selectman Michael Freda said at a Board of Selectmen meeting that he was not worried about funding the replacement, as there are several possible options. He suggested proposing a capital plan of about $80,000 in each annual budget or seeking local capital improvement funds from the state. 

“I’m not concerned about this at all,” Freda said at the Oct. 4 selectmen’s meeting. “We can do a number of different things.”

Buemi said putting aside money in a capital plan budget each year would be the best option. She said it was not likely the field would generate enough revenue in usage fees to fund the replacement itself.

The two artificial turf fields were approved by the North Haven Middle School Building Committee in April of 2017, as part of the $69 million school renovation project approved by residents in 2014, the Record-Journal previously reported. 

Twitter: @baileyfaywright