The Mahwah Board of Education said Wednesday night it will not vote on a proposed athletic complex until October, after it meets with athletic booster clubs to gather their input on the proposed project.
Though board committees suggested the proposal for a 27,000 square foot facility near the high school football field was ready for a vote earlier, Board President Tricia Shada said she requested the vote be delayed until the Board could get input from both the youth and high school booster clubs at their September 30 meetings.
Shada told the board she felt it would be “proactive and respectful” to wait to make a decision until after they sought the input of those groups.
Board facilities committee chair Peter Wendrychowicz reiterated Wednesday night that the proposal fulfills three considerations – need, use, and long-term outlook.
In terms of need, Wendrychowicz cited a demand for more practice facilities from nearly all Mahwah sports teams, the eventual reduction of late afternoon and nighttime practices caused by scheduling conflicts, and the eventual ability to open the facility up to community use beyond just the school.
In terms of long-term planning, he said the committee feels the complex will make the township a, “more desirable location to come to,” for young parents moving to Mahwah.
Board member Suzanne Curry asked for an outline of how the project’s cost, an approximated $3.8 million, would fit into the board’s long-term facilities plan.
Business Administrator Ed Deptula said he is in the midst of updating the board’s long-range facilities plan, which will be completed this October. The plan, he said, will outline all of the recently-completed projects in the district, and upcoming and future projects.
If the board decides to move forward on the project, it will still have, “several million dollars left,” in its capital reserve account, “the bulk of which is not already allocated,” to other projects, he said. The fund from which the money for the athletic complex would come is restricted, board members said, to use only for facilities projects.
The board also answered questions from two residents who brought up concerns about the project at the meeting.
When prompted by questions about tax implications by resident Richard Levine, board members reiterated that the complex would not necessitate tax increases because it will be paid for using already-collected funding in the district’s capital reserve account.
Resident Audrey Artusio said she felt the board should ask for the community’s feelings on the project through a non-binding referendum.
“I am not against sports, I just think we should see how many kids would actually use this,” she said.
Board members responded that at least one-third of the student population at Mahwah High School is involved in a sport every season.
The complex, as proposed, “is not a large building,” Wendrychowicz said. “But, it’ll service not only the community, but the school district in many, many ways.”