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School Committee Hears Presentation on Proposed PHS Turf Field

A group of six Portsmouth residents say Portsmouth High School needs a new turf field.

A group of six individuals, including Town Councilor Keith Hamilton, Christine Jenkins, Ed and Julia Coll, Aquidneck Land Trust executive director Ted Clement and Gary Eggeman, say is in need of a new turf field. 

The group gave a presentation before the Portsmouth School Committee Tuesday night. 

The estimated cost to install a turf field and replace the track is $1.6 million, with the majority of funds to be obtained through fundraising, according to a release from the school department. 

A copy of the presentation can be viewed here

The school committee directed the superintendent to present recommendations at the next school committee meeting, which will be held on May 8. 

Additional highlights from Tuesday's meeting can also be viewed in the pdf at right or on the school department's Web site

Wendy B April 12, 2012 at 11:38 AM
It seems to me that shopping for an artificial turf field is a little extravagant when the middle school doesn't even have a playground! How many high schools in this division have a turf field and how many just put up with standard old grass?
da April 12, 2012 at 11:43 AM
I have to agree with Wendy B. while a turf field is nice.....our kids don't even have science books. Where are our priorities......not in te classrooms!
James Thomas April 12, 2012 at 01:48 PM
I'm surprised no one has brought up the health implications of a turf field. A lot more injuries take place on turf fields than on natural ones. Someone should make sure those details are brought to light as well.
getreal April 12, 2012 at 01:56 PM
What is the life expectancy of a artificial turf field that is exposed to the elements? UV rays and ice/snow must be a factor.
Average Joe April 12, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Let me start by saying I'm not in favor of an artificial turf field right now in Portsmouth because of the economic conditions of the town/State. But getting to your statement that "A lot more injuries take place on turf fields than on natural ones.". This is not true. You are probably looking at old studies on the old "Astro Turf" fields. New artificial turf field have solved most of these older problems. FYI, there are many studies out there that show natural grass turf fields, that are not properly maintaned (which are the majority in the northern states), are much more dangerous than new artifical turf fields.
Portsmouth Papa April 12, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Give me a break! This makes no sense, we do not have the money to spend on this. Portsmouth football can take a backseat for a change. There are far more important educational and town programs that need to be addressed! We are already carrying an extremely heavy tax burden, this proposal is ridiculous. To those who claim it will save money in the long run, please show us the break-even analysis. How long will it take to recoup the initial cost? What is the annual maintenance costs to the this new field?
Jon Sisson April 12, 2012 at 03:32 PM
I graduated from PHS, first of all. I can not say that I really appreciated the fields because I never used them. However, I can understand why people would want new fields because their kids are using them. Of course, I myself believe this is just a competition idea with middletown, but that's just me. In any case, like many have said, we are in a bad time financially, whether people choose to believe it or not. At least in the great depression, most people realized the country was failing. Now people seem to just want to pull a veil over their face and keep spending. "It'll get better if we just keep spending right?" NO. Yes it would be from fundraising, but WHERE DO FUNDRAISING FUNDS COME FROM. The answer would be some companies that feel like donating, yes, but mostly regular shmucks like you and I. Some would say "oh but it's only 5 bucks here and there." Take your 5 bucks and save it with your other groups of 5 bucks and pay for your own crap you may be behind on (bills/taxes/etc). I know someone who's taxes went up 800 dollars since last year and I know that's not the worst case. Come on people. Wake up and smell the turtle soup! We need to take a financial defense position. And I am by no means a conservative, but when you shoot your foot, you probably should go to the hospital. It's just that simple. SAY NO TO DUMB SPENDING. And please do what ya'll can to get these ding dongs out of office PLEASE?!
Good Year April 12, 2012 at 04:53 PM
For those of you who are unwilling to think outside the box. In the long term, Aquidneck Island will not be able to sustain three school systems. The extraordinary cost of retirement benefits will eventually force the island to regionalize. That's why it makes no sense to spend all that money on a new field when you eventually will end up playing on the Turner Rd. field someday. If Salve can travel WAY out to Middletown to play their games, then Portsmouth can travel WAY down East Main Rd. and do the same!
Lindsey April 12, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Salve helped to pay for the turf field in Middletown didn't they.... so they have every right to use it. I know that schedules have to be made around Salve, MHS, and also the Pop Warner teams. I am not sure if soccer has to play there as well, but how do you recommend Portsmouth also fit in there with two soccer teams, a few football team and again the youth teams. I am a teacher and I agree that money has to be given more to the education side, then the athletic side, but at the same time, I was a Portsmouth High School student and I witnessed the shape of the fields over 10 years ago.I know that sports in this time are important to keep students active, as their is the obesity problem as well. I am sure that the fields need some upkeep and I am aware it takes money. But with the turf, does it have to be watered all the time NO does it have to be cut all the time NO.... With the youth teams using it, then the abiltiy to get some fundraising help is there. I think there will a saving in the money as well due to the different upkeep.
Portsmouth runner April 13, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Almost 30 teachers were pinkslipped around the district, class sizes are increasing and this is what we give millions too. The track and the field are terrible, but academics come first. Sorry athletics.
Mark Wyman April 13, 2012 at 02:32 AM
I never said to get rid of the students I said that the schools need to educate them not worry about after school programs. I went to PHS and never used the football field of track. I had children that went to PHS and they also never used this field. In better economic times this would be a good idea but when you are letting teachers go you shouldn't be putting millions into an after school football field.
Jon Sisson April 13, 2012 at 03:41 PM
The arts programs got cut first. Maybe the almighty sports squads have to start to DIY a bit and pay for stuff themselves. I liked the comment about partially privatizing it and letting the people that care about it so much spend the money themselves. It's not about how easy the field is to maintain in the long run. We simply have better things to spend it on. And jocks that can't make due with what they have might need to adjust their cups cuz they're probably too tight.
Portsmouth Advocate April 13, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Folks, let's try to be civil and remove the emotion from the argument. Yes, I agree the Portsmouth schools need an increased budget. Yes the teacher's union should be forced to end the pensions and medical benefits and transition to 401K plans like the rest of the business world and many municipal unions. If I'm not mistaken more than 90% of our school budget goes to benefits for teachers, not educating our students. This turf field is proposed by citizens interested in the athletics program and who are willing to work to raise the funds necessary to make the project happen. If you are not willing to do the same for the arts program or theater or band or whatever, you should not complain about how these people choose to spend their time and effort. They are interested in the athletics program and they are supporting it. The facts will show that a turf field requires less maintenance and less resources (water, fertilizer, labor, etc.) than a grass field and will be safer primarily because it will be a truly even field with no holes or divots where ankles and knees get twisted. If the group can raise a large percentage of the funds required and can demonstrate the money they would like the school to invest will show a return on the investment because of the reduced maintenance costs then this is a great idea and should be supported. It does not solve the problems with the books, teachers or other programs. But then again it isn't meant to.
Mark Wyman April 13, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Portsmouth Advocate this has nothing to do with emotion it has to do with the fact that we can not afford non educational after school sports programs any more. I don't know if you noticed but we are in the middle of the biggest economic down turn since the Great Depression. I personally have lost my job that I have had for 32 years and I can not afford to pay for the kid on the football team to play games. I am sure that they may seem important to the kids right now but they are jus games. In better economic time this might be a good idea but at this time I am just trying to keep a roof over my families head and food on the table amd I can't live on the football field.
Portsmouth Citizen April 13, 2012 at 09:22 PM
A correction: it is not true that "more than 90% of our school budget goes to benefits for teachers, ..." The lion's share of the school budget is for teacher compensation, all of it, not just "benefits." I don't know the percentage. My point is that the budget pays for salaries for teachers, not just benefits. Also, you repeat the old meaningless soundbite that the budget pays for teachers, "not educating our students." What do you think educates our students if not teachers? Blank walls? Spending money for teachers IS educating students.
Portsmouth runner April 13, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Occupy PHS? ;)
Portsmouth Advocate April 14, 2012 at 04:48 AM
This group is raising the money for the field on their own. It sounds like people want to dictate to them how to spend it because they think other items are more important. I sympathize with your situation but please understand that no one is asking you to pay for the field. They are raising the money from those who wish to donate and believe this is a worthwhile endeavor. I completely agree that the first priority is taking care of your family. Why are people so upset at those more fortunate than you (or I) at this time that wish to donate money for the field? They earned their money and it is their right to decide how to spend or donate it.
Portsmouth Advocate April 14, 2012 at 04:53 AM
I meant no disrespect to teachers. I firmly believe they are the cornerstone of our future and are generally underappreciated. My only point is that a life time pension and medical benefits is not economically feasible in these times. That practice began when there were fewer teachers and people were not living as long. The town simply cannot afford to pay for pensions and benefits after people retire. On the flip side I do beleive we should increase salaries for good teachers while they are on the payroll. I think you'd be surprised at how much of the school budget does go to retired teachers and administrators and custodians. This has to change.
Mark Wyman April 14, 2012 at 05:35 AM
Portsmouth Advocate people donate the money to pay for installation then the taxpayers are stuck footing the bill for all future costs there is no free ride. I have seen this time and time again in this town if you wnat this field then rase the money plus enough extra to cover all future costs and I will have no problem but don't install it and leave me with all the other bills for this project. You have to look at the long term costs and not just the short term.
Portsmouth Advocate April 14, 2012 at 08:00 PM
I agree but do not forget to factor in what the school is paying for field maintenance now. I think you will find the maintenance of the new field is less than maintaining the poor quality field we currently have. You cannot expect the school department to pay nothing for the life of a field simply because you personally do not see the value in it. Typically, organizations like Portsmouth Youth Football donate to help maintain the field since they use it as well. You can expect that to continue.
outside look April 15, 2012 at 11:47 AM
I say get rid of all afternoon sports that are either maintained or paid for by our taxes. Parents that spend that much time taking their kids to and from sports can easily spend that time doing the same sports with their kids. If it's socialization your looking for in addition to physical fitness than organize a group of friends and family to play the sport. Sad as it is, I hear more parents who have their kids in sports complaining about how much it is, how much time is needed and the aggravation with it. Whatever the decision, it seems the more technology we have the more people want to keep up with the Jones' when not everyone can afford it..
Portsmouth Advocate April 16, 2012 at 05:13 AM
Outside, I have to assume you do not have kids who play sports. I assume when you say cancel all afternoon sports that cost the tax payers money you really mean cancel all extracurricular activities to save money in the school budget. The amount of money spent on extracurricular activities is a miniscule portion of the school budget. Sports, band, theater, arts all contribute to more well rounded kids and kids are the future of the country. It is extremely short sighted to short change the children of Portsmouth, our future, because you want to save a few bucks now. Your portion of the extracurricular activities is probably less than $10 per year per household. That's less than $1 per month to make Portsmouth kids more well rounded. By the way, all of this is completely irrelevant to the discussion on the field but thanks for your contribution. I have to assume you are an active member of the PCC!
outside look April 16, 2012 at 01:01 PM
Yes, I would cancel all activites including band etc. to save on budget. What I want to know is are your grandparents not well rounded? I say that because they didn't have half the stuff we have today, so why does paying for turf and sports make a person well rounded? Does the area they live in make a person well rounded? I do have children, I play a half an hour a day with them except the rain of course. Street hockey, walking, jump rope, hop scotch, bike riding, sledding all these things I do with my children that other tax payers aren't paying for. I can't believe you that my contribution is less than 10 a year. Why is my comment irrelevant, we are talking about turf for our Portsmouth children and I live in Portsmouth and pay my taxes. So, my opinion matters just as yours, I just don't agree with yours and you don't agree with mine.
TD April 16, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Sandy McGee, Could you please investigate this claim that the kids dont have science books? This is outrageous if true and would make for a more important debate. Thank you in advance.
Sandy McGee (Editor) April 16, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Thank-you for your comment da. Can you explain further what you mean about kids not having science books?
Portsmouth Papa April 16, 2012 at 05:13 PM
@Portsmouth Advocate the Portsmouth field is not in "poor" condition at all. In contrast the fields and athletic facilities are far above the quality of other schools throughout the state. The other point here is I don't think the majority of people oppose this idea if it is "fully" funded through fundraising. It becomes an issue when tax payers need to foot part of the initial investment or incur expenses that surpass what we are currently paying. If anything we should be searching for creative alternatives to reduce costs but maintain the same level of benefit. Along those same lines, we need to see the maintenance costs and how they compare with the current costs. In addition here are a few of the many questions that have to be answered: What is the life cycle of this synthetic field? Are we going to have to replace it 20 years from now? Is synthetic turf truly safer than a properly maintained natural field? Are there creative joint ventures (similar Middletown's deal with Salve) available to Portsmouth? If tax payer money is needed for this project then I believe that there are better ways to spend our tax money. This proposed project should be a labeled as a "want" instead of a "need" since there is a more than adequate natural field available.
Portsmouth Advocate April 18, 2012 at 08:11 PM
@outside Paying for turf and sports don't make a person well rounded but participating in sports does. My point about your comment being irrelevant was because you did not comment on the issue of paying for the field. You only want to save money on your taxes.
Portsmouth Advocate April 18, 2012 at 08:19 PM
@Portsmouth Papa I do think the field is in poor condition since I have been on the field and know first hand. The practice field with the lights is completely dirt and rocks with very little grass left on it. I do completely agree with you that some more information is necessary to make an informed decision on the field. The maintenance and life cycle are key factors. You do need to consider services donated by town organizations for mowing and painting lines in the cost for maintenance since that money could then be donated to help other programs if there is an excess. I think we missed the boat on any joint ventures (as did Newport when they turned down Salve). Roger Williams is the closest university and they have fields. The Abbey have enough alumni with deep pockets that if they want a field they will put one in themselves. It is clearly a "want" versus a "need" but it would be nice for the kids at PHS that do play sports or participate in band to have a nice field to do it on providing it is cost effective. The bottom line is that we are in agreement on everything except the condition of the current fields at PHS.
Nate April 25, 2012 at 12:13 PM
The field is in poor shape, there is no doubt about that. If you think it is not, then you clearly have never played a sport recently on it. And to all the people who are saying get rid of sports to focus on education, please tell me you are kidding. Look at the top students in our school. not all, but the vast majority of them are athletes! They come to school for education but to play a sport as well. So what happens when we take away our sports? Those top students go to a school with a sports program and good sports. That means our test scores go down. There goes our education. The condition of the current field is not good. As an athlete, we cannot even practice on the playing field in fears of tearing it up more. That means we have to go to fields that are not supposed to be played on. One would be the grass by the new gym, which is about the sewage. Everytime it rains, the smell would be unbearable. And not to mention lord only knows what you were stepping in. With a turf field, we would not have a concern about where to play or the condition of the field. And every student does use the field during their high school career. Even if they do not play a sport, they have gym class which goes on the field. Another point is graduation. I know this is a small factor, but come June 8th, do you want our school to be represented by a crappy field, or a beautiful turf field. If you do not want the field, good for you. Don't help fundraise. Simple as that, common sense.
rkj May 04, 2012 at 08:24 PM
dump sticker , how much now

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