The North Salem School Board has some decisions to make when it comes to which amenities it will include in plans for a turf field.

Board member Deborah D’Agostino, representing the facilities committee, said the district needs to decide whether to direct its architect to draw up plans for extras like lighting, bleachers and bathrooms for the proposed turf field at the North Salem Middle School/High School. 

“We got a preliminary budget from our architect and what we should be considering as we look at the cost,” D’Agostino said. 

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And for timing, the board needs to “take into account a number of different factors,” D’Agostino said, like its budget and borrowing cycle and availability of the school’s campus for construction.

“We talked about whether it would be possible to ensure the field was ready for the season, but that might not be practical because we can’t start work when the students are on campus, so all the work would have to be done in the summer,” D’Agostino said. “We sent the architect to fine tune those things and once they are fine tuned we’ll bring it back to the board.”

Late last year, the school board resurrected talks over allocating money for a turf field, something parents have said is becoming an increasingly urgent need for sports teams.

The turf would serve as a field for soccer, field hockey and lacrosse. Board President Andrew Brown said previously that North Salem is among the minority of schools that don’t have a turf field. The district had discussed building one a decade ago, but then the economy collapsed and it got tabled indefinitely. 

KSQ architect has quoted the district a price of about $3.5 million for a field, but that price will likely change when the facilities committee hammers out the details of the project, including a timeline.

The field would be paid for by a bond to be issued right around the time several other district bonds are set to retire, Brown said.

Student athletes have to contend with muddy fields without a turf playing area, which can withstand more water and wear and tear than a grass counterpart. The turf field would replace a field, not add one, but in doing so allows the district to rest and repair its grass fields while maintaining a 365-day playing surface for the district and the community. 

Dehumidifier for PQ
The facilities committee also discussed whether it could fund a dehumidifier for PQ after the school almost didn’t open on time in September because of mold throughout the building.

“We built a master list of projects and prioritized and now we’re taking a look at that second tier list to see where we can best use bond money,” D’Agostino said.

The mold was discovered late in the summer and crews worked around the clock to get the school clean and open for Sept. 6.

Superintendent Dr. Ken Freeston said at the time the mold was due to a perfect storm of factors: a wet and warm August and a lack of activity at the school when it was closed for two weeks for septic work. There was also work being done on the school’s roof where only metal sheets covered the building. It’s possible that condensation formed on the metal because of the heat outside and air conditioning inside.

PQ has an HVAC system, but not a dehumidifying system, Freeston said. 

D’Agostino said it would be unlikely the school could get the state approvals necessary to put in a dehumidifier for this summer, but is planning for summer 2020 to have the work done.

“So we just have to hold our breath for this summer?” asked board member Paul Giamundo. 

The board decided it would bring in portable dehumidifying units for this summer while it puts together plans for a permanent fix.

“Hopefully we’ll never have a mold issue again in the summer,” Brown said.