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Turf Fields on Agenda for Haddonfield BOE

The controversial plan is part of Bancroft public purchase initiative.

The Haddonfield Board of Education discussed its plans to install turf fields at the high school as part of the Bancroft purchase initiative during its regular meeting Thursday.

The meeting featured a presentation from the engineering firm of Remington & Vernick.

The turf project has been a lightning rod for objections over a $16.9 million plan for a public purchase of the 18.7-acre Bancroft property adjacent to the high school. Public opinion in three meetings on the purchase in July was generally supportive of the plan, which would acquire the property for current and future school use and to preserve open space.

A sticking point was over the inclusion of funds to resurface the high school football stadium with artificial turf and to construct a new artificial turf field there. Some supporters of the public purchase have said they would not support the initiative if the field component remains in it.

School officials say the upgraded fields and facilities are needed and will benefit the school and borough youth-sports programs. Supporters say the fields will require less maintenance than existing grass fields and will be able to sustain more continuous use.

A group of residents have agreed to raise $500,000 of an estimated $1 million needed to resurface the football field and an adjacent field owned by the borough. The borough and the school board have approved a plan to pay for the balance of the cost to resurface the fields if the private group is successful in reaching its fundraising goal.

It is not immediately clear how the private fundraising would affect the Bancroft purchase price.

A public referendum on the Bancroft purchase is scheduled in January.

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