The Spotswood football and baseball teams will be big beneficiaries of a $12.6 million dollar bond referendum overwhelmingly approved by voters Tuesday.
School Board President Dan Lennan says the question on the ballot for Spotswood and Helmetta voters passed by more than a two-to-one margin, 640-301, paving the way for major athletic improvements, as well as other much-needed upgrades to district schools.
On the sports side of things, the money will help pay for a new artificial turf field at Chargers Stadium, the home of the football team, as well as permanent lighting to allow for night play. Spotswood has played a handful of night games over the years with rented lights.
In addition, the track will be realigned to a wider configuration, allowing the field to also be used for soccer. Over the years, the football and soccer fields have suffered from poor drainage, leading to games being rescheduled or cancelled altogether.
The baseball field – as Glenny Fredricks’ team’s call it, affectionately, “The Swamp” – also suffers from poor drainage. The team lucked out this Spring with a dry season, but generally the infield gets muddy and the grass gets soggy. But the referendum will help pay for significant drainage improvements to the field.
Athletics isn’t the only area that will benefit.
The high school now will get new lighting and sound equipment for district-wide theater and stage performances. Appleby and Schoenly Schools will see new ADA-compliant playground equipment. HVAC units at Appleby and Memorial schools will be upgraded and replaced, as will HVAC equipment at Schoenly, which also will get a new roof.
The projects will have no tax impact on residents of Spotswood or Helmetta. (Milltown has its own Board of Education, and thus had no vote on the matter.) And 40 percent of the cost will be covered by state aid, which only comes into effect if the district borrows the money. Had it chosen not to go to voters and pay out of its annual budget, the cost would have been much higher.
School officials in South River now hope the same fate awaits them when a referendum goes before voters in November that asks for $5.5 million dollars to replace the condemned Bill Denny Stadium, home of the football team since 1934.