Committee to review feasibility study on field upgrades

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BENNINGTON — The Mount Anthony school board is forming an ad hoc committee to review the feasibility study for upgrades to Spinelli Field and the athletic complex.

The committee, which will eventually have nine people — two board members, two coaches, two parents or community members, two administrators and one student — is tasked with reviewing the study and give the board recommendations on the options in the study.

"[Director of Buildings and Grounds] Paul [Dansereau] and I met with MSK a half-dozen times," said Mount Anthony athletic director Ashley Hoyt. "They measured everything and worked through our wishlist. We told them this is the direction we want to take and they gave us price ranges for what we wanted."

At the regular April board meeting, the committee will present its findings to the full board.

The plan would take out the grass field of Spinelli Field and put in a turf field, along with fixing or replacing the visitor side bleachers, resurfacing the track, replacing the bathrooms, the ticket booths, getting more adequate lighting and adding more handicapped parking.

"We're going to ask for $2.5 million, but $1.25 million of that is for the basic upgrades, not the field," Hoyt said. "That's for things like drainage. Depending on if we do a natural or synthetic turf, the cost could definitely be less."

A synthetic turf field would cost up to $700,000 more, but it also would last longer and be easier to maintain for a number of years.

"A synthetic field has a shelf life of 10 years, but with the amount of use, it could last 12 or 14 for us," Hoyt said.

The cost for the project would be in a bond and would need to be approved by the voters in the town of Bennington.

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Hoyt said that facility upgrades were discussed at her interview when she applied for the athletic director position.

"We had just lost the gym at Arlington [because of a broken water pipe], so I knew about those things," Hoyt said. "I talked about a new field with Paul and that was the first thing on my wishlist."

Right now, Spinelli Field is only used for football games and varsity boys and girls soccer games. Even after only a couple of football games, the sidelines are nearly unrecognizable.

"There's a few factors and one is playability," Hoyt said. "We want to get maximum time on the field and we can only play games, no one can even practice on it. In the spring, they don't get to play on the field and they've always talked about playing in the stadium."

Another part of the playability regards spring sports as well. With Vermont weather harsh on the grass field, spring sports, like baseball and lacrosse, are stuck in a gym because the turf is unplayable.

"It's a big difference between that and places like Rutland or South Burlington or even Burr and Burton that can get outside early," Hoyt said.

Football coach Chad Gordon and boys soccer coach Mike Molloy will be on the ad hoc committee, but the rest of the committee hasn't been formed yet.

"The overall goal of the committee is to bring up front all of the pros and cons," Hoyt said. "We want to have more answers for everyone — the board, the community — and we don't want to rush it."

Any parents or community members interested in serving on the committee can contact the superintendent's office at 802-447-7501 x5800.


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