Another milestone in the development of new athletic fields for Katonal Lewisboro schools passed last week, when the board of education approved an agreement with the New York State Department of Transportation for the traffic signals at the fields' entrance on Route 121 in Cross River.
The DOT visited the site last year and made suggestions that are now in place: a single-point crosswalk, pedestrian flashing beacons, and a lowered speed limit of 25 miles-per-hour on Route 121 to the north and south of the fields' entrance, according to Michael Jumper, assistant superintendent for business.
The construction of the new athletic fields was approved by a public referendum vote in December 2009 which authorized the allocation of $3.15 million to a capital reserve fund—established in March 2009, also by public vote—to build two new fields, renovate an existing baseball field, and make improvements to high school arts spaces.
Because the road is a state highway, the state will pay the cost of the installation of the new electric signals, while the district will pay about $1250 for annual maintenance.
Solar-powered flashing beacons were considered but the cost for the upgrade, which the district would bear, was deemed prohibitive. The annual power usage is not expected to be substantial, said Jumper.
The site requires approvals from the state Department of Education, for the construction plans, and the Department of Environmental Protection, for stormwater pollution prevention. These are expected in the next 8-10 weeks, paving the way for the construction to start this fall, according to Jumper.
The $1 million, 8-acre parcel was donated by local philanthropists Adam Rose and Peter Quillan following the establishment of the capital reserve account and transferring $3.15 million from a district repair reserve account, which may only be used to complete minor repairs, under state law.
At the time, the vote generated controversy as residents debated the use of funds for fields against the backdrop of a failing economy and the need to offset district operating costs, according to news reports.
During the 2010 budget season, field construction costs again came under fire when board member Peter Treyz asked whether another referendum could be put to vote in order to use funds toward the tax levy. The board could decide that the purpose of building the fields no longer exists, said Jumper, but the money would first be used to pay off district debt which is currently around $7 million.