“Bolton High School’s Abby Seamans and Hadley-Luzerne’s Heather Emerick vie for ball control during a soccer game played at on Bolton Central’s athletic field in 2011. Bolton Central’s school board is now exploring the possibility of acquiring an additional field off Horicon Avenue so the existing soccer field doesn’t have to be converted seasonally to accommodate different sports.
Local students may have an additional sports field by fall if negotiations are successful between Bolton Central school officials and the owner of a nearby plot of land, Superintendent of Schools Ray Ciccarelli said March 3.
The owner of the land — a plot of 7 to 8 acres off Horicon Avenue — made a preliminary proposal recently to a school board member for the sale or lease of the land to Bolton Central, he said. The plot of land, level and predominantly clear, is across Horicon Ave. and down the street a short distance from the school, he said.
Ciccerelli said the offer came as a surprise to the board, which has been pursuing efforts for more than a decade to obtain more land for sports and physical education purposes.
“This individual proposed an option the board of education never anticipated, and it came along at an opportune time,” he said. Ciccarelli said he wasn’t authorized to release the name of the land owner, a local contractor.
If negotiations are successful in obtaining the land at a reasonable cost, Ciccarelli said, the land will provide adequate room to more appropriately accommodate sports and physical education programs. Also, it will avoid an annual conversion of the existing sports field north of the school from a soccer field to a baseball field. It could also host community events as well as provide room for future campus expansion if needed, Ciccarelli added.
The existing sports field, along Lake Shore Drive, was upgraded last year in a project that included installing new drainage pipes to keep it from becoming swampy at times and to prevent it from heaving in frigid winter weather. The project, which cost about $300,000, also included levelling the surface, adding topsoil and planting sod.
The school board voted unanimously at a recent meeting to suspend plans to convert this field for the 2014 baseball season while it explores the option of acquiring the land off Horicon Avenue.
In the meantime, baseball and softball games will be played either at Camp Echo Lake in Warrensburg, or on opposing teams’ home fields.
From 2004 to 2007, the Bolton Central School Board had advanced several proposals to acquire land and develop sports fields, but the initiatives didn’t become reality. In 2004, Bolton Central’s school board proposed to purchase a plot of land a considerable distance from the school campus, and develop it into sports fields at a cost of almost $2 million. School District voters rejected the plan.
Ciccarelli said that the school board’s facilities committee, comprised of Carl Schoder, Kathy Pfau, and Thomas Herrick, will be making the primary evaluation of whether to pursue acquiring the Horicon Avenue field. He added that he and the board had no intention of exceeding the state property tax cap in purchasing and developing a new field.
“We’re interested if it’s a reasonable, prudent possibility and we come to an agreement that works well for both the school community and the landowner,” he said. “This option looks like it would absolutely be a solution to a long-standing problem. The school board will be investigating this to see if it’s viable.”