This week's edition of the Farmingdale Observer has as its lead story news that our school district has broken ground for a new turf football field at the high school. The cost of this project is $800,000 and it is being funded by grants from New York State which have been secured by our local State Senator.
Included with the article is the to-be-expected photo op picture -- various officials with shovels pretending to dig into the ground. Behind them is a huge banner proclaiming the start of the project, with the words "at no cost to the taxpayer!!!" (Exclamation points theirs.)
Now wait just a minute. The money is coming from the state. The state government gets its money from taxes. We are the taxpayers. So how exactly is this being done with no cost to us? Did the state legislature just print up some extra money and send it along?
The article includes quotes from school officials about the need for this improvement, including the athletic director who proclaims that because they will have this field "practice will always take place in any weather anytime." Does she mean the football, soccer, and lacrosse teams will now be practicing day and night, in rain and snow?
The article also quotes the lacrosse coach, who says that "this will help our athletes get ready for college since about 80% of the Division 1 teams have turf fields." I don't know how many of Farmingdale's lacrosse players get sports scholarships or how many of those go to Division 1 schools, but there are probably some other things they could be doing to prepare for college. Taking courses that will prepare them for the job market, especially since there don't seem to be too many careers in lacrosse, might be a good idea.
Some years ago, a similar to-do was made when lights were installed on the football field so that the team could play night games. I don't recall how much money was spent putting them in, but the football team only plays eight regular season games... four of them at home!
Our local version of Friday Night Lights proved to bring an expense that its proponents apparently did not take into account; not long after the first night game, there were fundraisers being held to pay the electric bill!
What hidden cost does a turf field have? Squeegies to get the water off when it rains?