Education

SWR floating proposition to add second turf field at high school

Officials in the Shoreham-Wading River Central School District plan to explore the viability of adding a second turf field to the high school campus that could primarily be used as a practice area to allow more teams to benefit from the surface.

Board member Michael Lewis proposed the idea during Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting and sought to gauge the rest of the board’s opinion on a proposition that could go before voters in May 2022.

Mr. Lewis outlined many of the recent upgrades completed in the past few years to athletic facilities in the district and then asked: “My question is to the board, why stop? We all know that turf time is a premium. Multiple school teams and youth programs are always scrambling for field time. Neighboring districts have not only have a main field, but they have a practice field.”

He proposed the field could be located behind the tennis courts and to relocate the junior varsity baseball field closer to the varsity field, which is known as Kevin Williams Memorial Field. Nearby Rocky Point High School, as an example, has two turf fields.

Superintendent Gerard Poole said he would reach out to athletic director Mark Passamonte for a schedule of use on the current turf field and acknowledged that it is divided among many teams, often leaving the junior varsity teams without any opportunities to practice on turf. The next step would be to place the proposal on the agenda for an upcoming space and facilities committee meeting, he said.

“We’ll put some energy behind that and come back to the board,” Mr. Poole said of the board’s request.

The board did not get into any specifics on costs during the preliminary discussion Tuesday.

The current turf field was formally dedicated five years ago as Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field and serves as the home for the football, soccer and field hockey teams in the fall. The lacrosse teams are the primary tenants in the spring. That field was part of a $48.5 million capital improvement bond voters approved in January 2015 and included $1.1 million for new tennis courts.

Voters in the Riverhead Central School District overwhelmingly voted down a proposition in 2020 that included converting the current football field to turf. In 2017, the district completed a turf field that is located behind the football field and used for soccer, field hockey and lacrosse.

Fellow SWR board members seemed open to exploring the possibility of a second turf field.

Mr. Passamonte told the News-Review he did not attend the board meeting and was not part of the discussion and declined to comment.

The main turf field, known as Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field, was officially unveiled five years ago. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)