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Bronxville School Board Backs Flood, Field Bond Plan

A letter from the Bronxville Board of Education regarding flood mitigation and Hayes Field.
A letter from the Bronxville Board of Education regarding flood mitigation and Hayes Field. Photo Credit: File

BRONXVILLE, N.Y. – The Bronxville Daily Voice accepts signed letters to the editor. Send letters to bronxville@dailyvoice.com .

To our parents, staff and fellow Bronxville residents:

Two 100-year floods within the span of four years caused damage in excess of $30 million, disrupted school and co-curricular activities for months, and wreaked havoc on the school building and neighboring residences. Our community's fortitude allowed us not only to respond meaningfully to these catastrophic events but also to emerge stronger, better-prepared for future challenges and with better resources than we had prior to 2007.

The last chapter of this saga requires our voters to approve district funding for two purposes: the first, to ensure that we receive state and federal funds (a multimillion-dollar FEMA grant and state aid) to help offset the final flood mitigation project costs; and the second, to take advantage of the site upheaval caused by the flood mitigation project by improving Hayes Field.

There is only modest cost to district residents associated with the flood mitigation project (about $900,000 in tax-free bonds) and no tax impact associated with improving Hayes Field. Improvements associated with Hayes Field would be paid for with existing capital reserve funds. No new funding is required.

The FEMA grant expires in September 2015, adding urgency to completing the work before school opens next year. Let's take a closer look at the two projects, funding for which voters will be asked to approve in a special referendum on Jan. 22. Flood mitigation

The flood remediation project calls for the installation of underground water retention tanks (below Hayes Field) and the construction of a pump house on the Midland Avenue side of the property. In extreme weather conditions that cause flooding, this system will mitigate the impacts to our physical plant by retaining stormwater until it is safe to be discharged into the Bronx River. Hayes Field

To install the flood mitigation system, significant excavation of Hayes Field is required, along with the removal of some trees and the construction of new parking areas required during construction. This provides us with an opportunity to secure our own destiny by enabling us to address the chronic shortage of field space, poor condition of Hayes Field from overuse and limited on-site parking.

The Board of Education believes that rebuilding Hayes Field with a combination of synthetic turf and natural turf represents the best option for playability and flexibility. Other alternatives that have been studied – including lighting Chambers Field, rebuilding Hayes Field with grass and leasing grass and synthetic turf fields outside the village – all come with compromises that far exceed any perceived negative effects of converting a portion of Hayes Field to a synthetic surface. Some school districts are now considering an organic infill for the synthetic surfaces that they use for school and community programs. We will conduct a comprehensive review of these products and other alternatives and, together with our facilities committee, administration and advisers, make the best choice for our community.

It has taken seven years to fully respond to the catastrophes that befell our district and community. We hope you will take the opportunity to consider how this final chapter will close the book on a better-prepared and stronger school district. Sincerely, Bronxville Board of Education

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