The Haddonfield school board Tuesday slashed $4.3 million off the $16.8 million purchase and development price for the Bancroft property.
The price was reduced by cutting $800,000 for the installation of an artificial turf field for the high-school football stadium and the addition of an anticipated $3.5 million of state, county and municipal grant and open-space money. The high-school turf was taken out of the proposal after a borough citizens group raised $600,000 toward the $1 million cost to resurface the stadium field and an adjacent one.
It reduced the cost of the project to $12.5 million, about a third of the original $32.3 million for the public purchase and development of Bancroft rolled out a year ago.
Despite the reductions, some in a near-capacity audience of four dozen at the high-school library still challenged the wisdom of the purchase.
"It's a start," said Brett Harrison, a former school board member, about the $4.3 million reduction announced Tuesday. "If we had money, if we won the lottery, I'd say go for it. But you got a lot of people, older people looking at foreclosures on their homes, and sure you have super rich in Haddonfield, but Haddonfield is not made of the super rich."
Harrison was a one-term board member, from 1998 to 2001. He was elected after a referendum to build an elementary school at Scout Field, a BOE athletic site, was rejected.
The 2.5-hour meeting was at times testy, but generally civil as about a dozen residents commented on the proposal to buy the 19-acre Bancroft property, adjacent to the high school.
School board President Steve Weinstein said with a smile after the meeting, "We are a responsive body. We listen to the people."
The board will finalize the language for a Jan. 22 bond referendum in a pubic meeting on Dec. 13.