Board approves scaled-back plan for field house

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EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – The Board of Education approved a revised plan for renovating and expanding the Egg Harbor Township High School field house during its meeting Tuesday, Nov. 14 by 7-2 vote.  The dissenting votes were cast by Thor Himley and Mark Deebold.

 The $690,000 plan calls for an expansion from its existing 4,700 square feet to approximately 6,400 square feet. The renovation will increase the lockers for male and female athletes from 110 each to 200 each, but public bathrooms will remain unchanged. The concession stand will be expanded slightly, but will remain attached to the field house, contrary to earlier proposed designs. The approved plan also means that less underground plumbing will need to be relocated.

 The design is smaller than the two options initially presented to the board during its Aug. 14 meeting and comes at a reduced cost as well, Board President James Galvin said.

 “This has been scaled back three times,” Galvin said. “We wanted to get more than we are getting, but we need to do something for our children and this is the time to do it. We have the money. Taxes are not going to be raised. This is capital outlay.”

 Board member Barbara Szilagi said she was in favor of moving ahead with the plan because the costs will be paid through money earmarked for these types of projects and because the board is charged with maintaining the facilities.

“The current field house is not accommodating to our students,” Szilagi said. 

At the Oct. 16 work session, several members of the public spoke in support of the project, including Paula Gentry, president of the boys lacrosse booster club. She told the board that in addition to needing more space in the concession stand, which is where the booster clubs make most of their money, the athletes need the extra space. She said as it is now, she packs trash bags for her son to store his gear in during games because there is no locker space available.

Himley said while he understands the need, now is not the proper time to be allocating money for such a project.

“I can understand the desire to make this the crown jewel in the district, but in this uncertain financial time, I would like to delay this expenditure at least into this fiscal year,” he said, noting that state aid figures as well as national economic issues need to be resolved. “We are facing a financial cliff nationally and it’s a very challenging environment to spend that kind of money right now.”

Board Vice President Neil Anderson said the board has saved money in anticipation of capital improvement projects like this.

“It is definitely in need of major repair,” Anderson said. “We are not building this to Cadillac standards. We are designing for space and locker rooms so these kids don’t have to leave their equipment outside or change outside anymore. That’s why we put money away. We are very frugal with our money so that when the time comes that it is needed, you spend it.”

More coverage:
Board mulls 2 plans for new field house


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