Boosters call for athletics upgrades

BC says $1.5M worth of work needed, bond vote discussed

— Members of the Bethlehem Central School District Board of Education asked Athletic Director John DeMeo to present the board with an overview of needed equipment and facility upgrades for the Athletic Department at its Jan. 4 meeting, and the wish list is well into the seven figures.

DeMeo gave the presentation two weeks after three members of athletics booster clubs asked the board at its Dec. 21 meeting to place a separate referendum on the upcoming school budget ballot to bond the cost of athletics facility upgrades. The group had already met with school principals, community members and athletic directors from neighboring school districts about the plan.

“There’s a need,” said Charles Clas, a member of the group sharing the bonding idea with the board. “We know we’re all in budget constraints. Every municipality, every school board and every resident is feeling the fiscal constraints, so we understand that bringing this up in these times, people might think we’re crazy.”

The proposed plan calls for a 10-year bond of about $1.5 million. The bond would cover the cost of a new turf field, updates to the track and a new lighting system and bleachers in the high school gymnasium.

DeMeo’s presentation called for similar upgrades.

“These are concerns of mine, too, and I wanted to make the board aware,” he said.

According to DeMeo, several football and field hockey games were canceled in the fall because of drainage issues and the bleachers are so old parts can no longer be found. When repairs need to be made to the bleachers, the parts need to be custom made especially for the school.

“I know the bleachers, they’re a liability. That’s just an accident waiting to happen,” said Clas. Another member of the group, Scott Bonnano, said the field was “detrimental to the athletes performing on it.”

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