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Boyertown board votes 6-3 to hire engineer for artificial turf field options at high school

COLEBROOKDALE — The Boyertown Area School Board voted 6-3 Tuesday to hire an engineering firm to design two artificial turf fields for the high school campus.

Voting against were board members James Brophy, Ruth Dierolf and Christine Neiman. Voting yes were board President Anthony Panarello, Vice President Jefferey Zawada, Marianne Scott, Wendy Kratz, Roger Updegrove and Brad Updegrove.

The board voted by the same margin in February to put out a request for proposals from architects and engineering firms to design the fields. Only two firms responded and on Tuesday, the board voted to hire Bethlehem-based D’Huy Engineering Inc. at a cost not to exceed $277,000.

It is the same firm that recommended the termination of the original architect for the over-long and over-budget expansion of Boyertown High School due to $20 million in cost overruns.

The estimated cost for the turf field project is about $7 million.

Chris Allen from D'Huy Engineering Inc., said his firm has only been instructed to design two turf fields. (Image via Boyertown School District)
Chris Allen from D’Huy Engineering Inc., said his firm has only been instructed to design two turf fields. (Image via Boyertown School District)

The firm will design two fields, a multi-use field and the football field, said D’Huy representative Chris Allen.

“I recommend you put the project out to bid as one field, with the second as an alternate,” he told the board. That way, if bids come in too high, the district can do just one field but will have designs for two.

Brophy was having none of it, arguing the entire process was being rushed. Tuesday he said the meeting was supposed to be a committee of the whole meeting, not a voting meeting. And yet a number of things were being voted on.

“What is the urgent need to vote on this tonight?” Brophy asked. “I can understand voting now on the budget, but why are we voting on D’Huy now? We should be discussing it, not voting on it.”

“This is the way it was presented to me and I was fine with it,” Panarello responded.

Zawada told Brophy he could have asked for the item to be pulled from the agenda. “This feels like, simply, an attack on the president.”

“I’m asking a question,” Brophy replied. “And besides, it should be on the agenda. We’re spending $277,000, it should be discussed, in the open, in public.”

Boyertown School Board President Anthony Panarello, center, listens to objections from board member James Brophy to voting Tuesday on hiring an engineer to design two new turf fields. (Image via Boyertown Schools)
Boyertown School Board President Anthony Panarello, center, listens to objections from board member James Brophy to voting Tuesday on hiring an engineer to design two new turf fields. (Image via Boyertown Schools)

Brophy also argued that no scope has been set on this project and hiring an engineering firm to design something that has not been clearly defined is “putting the cart before the horse. The original request came from the girls’ field hockey team which wanted a field so they could play games at home. We went from that to a multi-use field, to extra lighting, to bathrooms, stands, the football field and road improvements.”

Said Brophy “They asked for a field and now we’re going from that to a sports complex. If you think you’re going to get all that for $7 million, you’re dreaming. You haven’t even defined the project yet, you’re headed toward disaster.”

Zawada said hiring the engineer will allow for the project to be bid and all the costs will be broken down, so the board can decide what parts of the project it wants and how much it wants to spend.

“The scope of the proposal is two fields,” Allen said.

“This doesn’t tie us to two fields in any way whatsoever,” said Business Manager Patricia Denicola.

Dierolf said she had not even seen the request for proposal, to which Denicola replied “It was posted publicly.”

“Well I couldn’t find it,” Dierolf replied. “Besides I can’t even believe we’re moving forward with this, have you seen the condition of the tennis courts?”

Boyertown School Board member Christine Neiman, right, said the proposed final budget adopted Tuesday night "is not being fiscally responsible." (Image via Boyertown School District)
Metro Creative

Boyertown School Board member Christine Neiman, right, said the proposed final budget adopted Tuesday night “is not being fiscally responsible.” (Image via Boyertown School District)

Neiman also said she believes the project should not take priority over other capital projects, like those needed at Boyertown Elementary. She said the matter should be put to the voters in a November referendum. When no support emerged for that, she made a motion to table the vote until a later meeting, but that motion only won support from herself, Dierolf and Brophy.

When she tried to make more comments, Panarello cut her off.

“We’re done, we’re going to move to a vote.” When Neiman objected, he cut her off again. “You’re just trying to drag this out,” he said.


Source: Berkshire mont

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