School board should make decision on turf fields soon

Letter to the editor

November 14, 2011

There has been a lot of discussion about turf fields at high school stadiums recently. As a parent of high school athletes, as well as one of the founders of the Warhawks Football Program, I enthusiastically support this idea, which will put Howard county high school sports on the same level as those of the surrounding counties.

Since when is Howard county last to do anything? One answer might be that the tremendous Recreation and Parks fields in the area have provided a crutch from moving forward or at least keeping up with the rest of the state. What I don't understand is why this has generated so much controversy. To me it sounds like some politicians are upset at other politicians and are not even discussing the merits of the proposal. Unfortunately, our student athletes are the ones stuck in the middle of this game of political chess. It sounds like the county government and the school system have been building a good partnership.

I would not ever want to put the Board of Education in the position of having to choose funding turf fields over other construction projects under normal budget circumstances. I do, however, feel that it is appropriate to consider using funds that were created as a result of eliminating the phase in of the alcohol tax after the state budget had been approved. The board should have a hearing as soon as possible in order for both proponents and opponents to be heard.

If the school board decides to support the proposal it would allow the project to begin in this budget year. If the board decides that school money should not be used for this type of project, I would still ask that they approve the shared-use concept and allow Rec and Parks to move forward in the future. If the board decides they have no interest in this concept at all, I would ask that they make that known so that we in the youth sports community can change direction and begin lobbying the county to increase field capacity at Rec and Park sites.

Alex Pagnotta

Woodbine

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