Special School Referendum Meeting Tuesday

By on January 13, 2014

MeetingVerona’s public schools superintendent, Steven A. Forte, has called a special meeting on the planned referendum for Tuesday, January 14, at 7:30 p.m. in the H.B. Whitehorne auditorium.

The meeting seems to be designed to rally a final consensus on the referendum, whose cost now stands at $16,950,924. A vote on the measure, which is geared to address physical infrastructure and technology needs,  is planned for March 11.

While all of those needs have been discussed in depth at Board of Education and school SCA meetings, it seems the Forte would like to nail down exactly what Verona taxpayers want in terms of sports fields. In early January, the board of the Verona Eagles football and cheerleading program  sent a letter to its parents suggesting that money would be better spent on turfing and upgrading existing school fields rather than on building new fields on the hilltop behind the Community Center.

The Boosters letter also favored a complete overhaul of the lower field at Verona High School–Doc Goeltz Field–rather than the upper field. Thomas Sellitto Field has been closed for two football seasons after deep holes developed in it and the underlying soil was found to contain potentially dangerous items as a result of the landfill that was used on the site in the late 1970s. The referendum plan calls for the field to be compacted, capped with new soil and turfed, with new lighting and bleachers. The BOE has repeatedly stressed that, now that the hazards of the field are known, Verona cannot simply lock it inside a fence and walk away from it.

But while the Eagles letter expresses support for additional turf fields, it is asked its parents to consider alternatives to the existing town and school field projects, which would total more than $10 million and “put a tremendous burden on the tax payers”. In November, the BOE pegged the cost of fixes to the upper  field at VHS at $5,416,226. Last April, the Town Council voted to issue $5.125 million in bonds to fund the construction of two multipurpose turf fields on the hilltop.

The Eagles’ board believes that new fields can be created from what Verona’s schools already have, at a lower cost. In particular, it suggested that the lower field could be turfed for two multi-purpose fields and two baseball fields and that lights, bleachers, snack bar and score board could be added for $3 million total.

Verona’s other youth sports organizations have not taken public positions on the Eagles’ letter.


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