Town Meeting overwhelmingly approved borrowing $3.1 million dollars to build two artificial turf fields for the new Plymouth South High School, Saturday morning.
A portion of that money, up to $1.8 million, would be reimbursed to the town once the PSHS project is officially completed in September 2018. That money would come from the project’s contingency fund.
In defending the proposal, School Committee Chairman Dennis Begley said costs have gone up since the town voted to spend $199 million on two high schools and a senior center back in 2006. He added that the school department would be receiving a lower reimbursement for Plymouth South High School than it did for Plymouth North. The town got more money for PNHS since its design is based on a model school, among other factors. If the school department had received the same level of reimbursement, he said, it would currently have a $4 million surplus.
Building the fields, which will be located where the current PSHS sits, would create parity between the two high schools athletic programs, Superintendent Gary Maestas said. The fields at PNHS are used extensively by both students and outside groups, he added.
There was little opposition to the article. Precinct 10 Town Meeting Member Alan Costello moved to cut the amount borrowed to $1.5 million which, he said, would put pressure on the school department to manage the contingency fund carefully. That motion was defeated.
Precinct 3 Town Meeting Member Richard Barbieri asked if money was available from the available budget to install grass fields. Maestas said that while there was, it would take two years for the fields to be ready. He also noted the cost of maintaining grass fields. The fields, he added, “take a beating.”
For the most part, speakers were in favor of borrowing the extra money. “I can’t imagine holding the schools to an 11-year-old cost estimate,” said Precinct 15 Town Meeting Member Richard Hanlon, “I can’t imagine not spending this money after putting $200 million into this project.”
The vote was 101-14.