Selectmen think additional PSHS ballfield can wait

Selectmen voted to hold off on putting more money into the new Plymouth South High School.

School department officials came before the Board of Selectmen Tuesday night, asking that more money be borrowed for the project in order to build an artificial turf field, along with lighting and drainage. The field would be used by the soccer, baseball and softball teams.

Town Meeting had approved borrowing $199 million to build two high schools and a Senior Center in 2006. The town is receiving about $94 million in reimbursement from the state for the two schools. Any additional money would require Town Meeting approval.

Superintendent Gary Maestas said the total cost of the new additions would be about $4.1 million. The school department hoped, he said, to use leftover money from the project’s contingency fee to pay for some of the project. He estimated that would amount to about $1.5 million. However, those funds would not be available until the state certified that the project was officially complete, sometime in 2018.

Project Manager Ted Gentry said the school department was also looking into a deal to install solar panels at the school that would help pay for the lights. That could further reduce the cost by about $1.1 million.

Borrowing more money didn’t get much support from those in the audience. Precinct 15 Town Meeting Member Peter Svahn said there were too many unknowns to approve the move right now. “The timing is all out of whack,” he said. Fellow Precinct 15 Town Meeting Member Keven Joyce was even less forgiving, he called the vote to borrow the $199 million back in 2006 the biggest debt exclusion in state history, then asked “and now you want to borrow more money?”

Selectman Tony Provenzano agreed, saying that there was no urgency to borrow the money right now. In the end, his colleagues agreed, voting 4-0 to table the request. Selectman Sean Page was not present.

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