Tuesday, 06 February 2018 23:10

RSU #22 narrowly passes $850,000 turf renovation Featured

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HAMPDEN - Over 1,000 residents in the four towns comprising RSU #22 voted Tuesday to take on $850,000 in tax debt to help renovate Hampden Academy's turf field.

 The measure, passing by a ten vote margin of 514-504, will supplement a $110,000 field reserve fund started in 2009, as well as potential grants the school district is applying for.

 

"We recognize that the degrading of the field needs to be addressed for safety soon," Regan Nickels, assistant superintendent of business and operations said. "We expected to have eight to ten years of life expectancy, and we're on our 14th season."

 

The high school's field, used by five different teams a year, has become a safety hazard to student athletes, according to Nickels. Student-athletes who spoke at a forum in mid-January were unanimous in their desire for a newer, safer surface. Tuesday, the district asked voters to help with their tax money.

 

"We have a rich tradition of athletic events, and we know that the turf is going through a strong period of degrading," Nickels added. "We've seen bare spots. There's a reduction in the "in-fill."

 

Jeremy Jones, a Hampden resident petitioning outside the Hampden poling location Tuesday, says the tax burden is too much.

 

"We got the [old] field in the first place because two prominent businessmen stepped up and donated the lion's share," he said. "But that doesn't seem to be an option the school board wants to pursue."

 

Jones says he wants to see another privately-funded field. As for the students at last January's forum, they just want a new place to play. And they say, if you build it they will come.

 

"This turf has hosted 44 regional and state events," one athlete said. "So when we have that here, that's going to be people from Portland coming to Hampden Academy to watch these games."

 

Former HA athletic director and current Maine Principal's Association administrator Michael Bisson spoke at the meeting, and explained the MPA was looking venues like Messalonskee and Colby College to host tournaments originally planned for Hampden if the district didn't receive funding for the renovations.

 

 

David Guildford

Weekend Anchor/Reporter
dguildford@wvii.com

David joined the news team in March of 2017. First and foremost he is a proud Mainer. Before reporting for ABC7 and FOX22, he interned at WLBZ2 in Bangor, and attended the University of Maine's journalism program.

David was raised in the western Maine foothills, and has been a lifelong viewer of local Maine news. He hopes to bring this perspective to telling the stories of folks in the community.

When not on the job, David enjoys skiing, snowmobiling, spending time at the family camp on Branch Lake, and playing slow-pitch softball with the other Bangor gym class heroes.