The Mahwah Board of Education says it will have a long, detailed discussion about a proposed 26,000 square foot sports complex before it decides whether or not to add the facility to the Mahwah High School campus.
At a meeting last week, Board of Education member and facilities committee chair Peter Wendrychowicz talked about the proposed plan for the facility, which would be built near the school’s football field.
The complex, which would include dividable turf fields, five lanes of track, coaches meeting rooms, public restrooms and a new concession stand, was developed in response to a “real need in the district [and in] the community,” Wendrychowicz said. The plan was first conceived by the Facilities Committee three years ago, he said, after meetings with the high school’s athletic director.
“When we [first proposed the outdoor] field seven or eight years ago, I was against it,” he said. “But, now there is a group there using it every single night,” whether it be a township rec team, or a district sports team.
“The need is there,” Wendrychowicz said.
The board member also addressed some of the questions and concerns brought up about the proposed project since the last board meeting.
Additional parking to service the complex would not be necessary, he said, because it is designed to be a practice facility. As such, large crowds of spectators would not be drawn to the complex, as often happens with the outdoor field, he said.
Suggestions about adding a swimming pool and solar panels to the facility were dismissed. Wendrychowicz said the pool would be expensive, and would take up the entire footprint of the building. And, the number of solar panels that could fit on the building, he said, would not lead to much of a money or energy savings.
District officials also explained the proposed funding for the estimated $3.825 million cost of the project, which would be fully-funded by the district’s capital reserve account.
According to district Business Administrator Ed Deptula, the board has been allocating monies each year for capital improvement projects for over a decade. The capital reserve money can legally only be spent on facilities improvements, he said. The district has been saving money so that it could work on some “long-term improvements,” while still addressing smaller facilities improvements and emergency situations, he said.
“We will not be crippling the district by looking at a project that is $3.5 or $4m,” he said.
The proposed athletic complex would take up about 40% of the district’s current capital reserve budget, the board reported at its last meeting.
Board members said the proposed complex will be the topic of an ongoing discussion, saying there is “no rush” to make a decision about it.
If the board decides to go for the project, officials said it would take about 27 months to construct.