Cars and warm temperatures may have led to the damage done to a Farnsworth Middle School athletic field, but the list of who is culpable for what took place Saturday, March 22, extends to the New York State Department of Civil Service and the Guilderland Central School District.
As has been widely reported over the past 10 days, the Farnsworth field was torn up when people parked on it to take state civil service exams at the school. They were directed onto the field by a Guilderland police officer to prevent a larger public safety hazard. However, when the field thawed out in the warm air during the afternoon hours, it became a soft, muddy mess that trapped some vehicles and forced others to dig into the turf in order to get out.
The police shouldn’t be faulted in this matter. They were trying to mitigate a situation created by a miscommunication between the Department of Civil Service and school district officials over the number of people scheduled to take the tests.
Civil service officials told the district they anticipated 1,000 people total, but they failed to indicate that the number was per session, not for the entire weekend. District officials believed that was the total number of people scheduled to arrive for each of the two tests during the two-day period, or roughly 500 people per session. Since Farnsworth’s parking lot can handle up to 500 vehicles, school officials gave the green light.
Obviously, both sides are at fault here because neither civil service nor school district officials felt it was necessary to be absolutely clear on their numbers. Civil service officials should have made certain the school district understood that there would be 1,000 test takers arriving at Farnsworth for each session, and the district should have made certain that civil service understood the absolute parking lot limit was 500 vehicles. And even if only 500 people were going to show up per session, both sides should have known the importance of having a traffic control officer on hand to keep the cars flowing.