Mahwah High School may get a new, 26,000 square foot indoor athletic complex next to its football field, if members of the Board of Education follow a recommendation made by one of its subcommittees Wednesday night.
At its regular meeting Wednesday, Facilities Committee Chair and Board Member Chuck Saldarini gave a presentation to the board on the proposed complex, which he said would contain dividable turf fields, five lanes of track, coaches meeting rooms, public restrooms and a new concession stand. The facility, Saldarini said, would be two stories, and would be able to house multiple activities – both athletic and extra-curricular – at once.
“There is a lot of competition for practice space,” Saldarini said. “You have teams that can’t start their practices until 5 p.m. because of the competition for space. A kid on one of those teams is looking at a really long day...This could help facilitate a tremendous amount of activity.”
Though Saldarini said his presentation was only preliminary, and designs would need to be further reviewed before they could be finalized, the current plan calls for the building to go in at the front of the football field. The upper level of the facility, which would be at ground level, would contain the bathrooms and snack stand, and the bottom level would contain partition-able practice space designed so that multiple activities could go on simultaneously.
“This would not be just for sports,” he said. “There’s marching band, color guard, a lot of other activities that could really use the space.”
The complex would also be open to the community, so non-school sports and activities and community events could be hosted there. The board said it would anticipate a lot of community participation in the complex because the high school field has been so popular with non-school groups.
Saldarini said if the board decides to go ahead with the project, it would take $3,825,000, and about 27 months, to build.
The money, he said, would be allocated from the district’s capital reserve fund, and not generated by new taxpayer dollars.
The project would take up about 40% of the district’s current capital reserve budget, but Saldarini said that would not impact any of the other long-term facilities projects it is working on, or has planned.
“This requires no new tax dollars whatsoever,” he said. It would be, “financed by monies that have carefully been put away over the last number of years.”
The funding set aside can only be used on capital improvements, he said. And, if the board decides to go ahead with the proposal, it would not require a town-wide referendum vote.
Though there is no strict timeline for the implementation of the project, school officials said, if approved, the earliest it might go up is September 2015.
Board members brought up several questions about the complex Wednesday night, including whether or not it would require adding additional parking and an elevator, if an indoor pool could be added to the plan, and if solar panels could be installed to help cut costs on running it once it is up.
The board said it would continue to discuss the proposal at its August meeting, but some members commented positively toward the idea.
“I think this is phenomenal,” Board President Tricia Shada said. “It would certainly be used by countless people and groups [in the schools and the community].”