Referendum on Oxford High Field on Aug. 16

Residents will vote at Quaker Farms School between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

A referendum on the proposed $3.1 million Oxford High School athletic field project will be held on Thursday, Aug. 16, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Quaker Farms School, 30 Great Oak Road.

That is what the Board of Selectmen decided Tuesday night after the Board of Finance voted 6-0 to approve the project, which would bring an eight-lane rubberized track, an artificial turf field that can be used for multiple sports, bleachers, a press box and lights to the high school, which opened to students in 2007 without adequate athletic fields.

The project would be bonded for a maximum of 20 years at an interest rate between 2 percent and 2.5 percent. If approved by voters, the cost of the project would add about .16 mills to the tax rate, meaning that a homeowner with a house assessed at $250,000 could see an increase of about $35 a year, based on the current budget and grand list, both of which change year-to-year.

The Board of Finance said it wants to see regular accounting updates on the plan, and all future bonding projects, so its members can make sure the projects do not come in over budget. Selectmen Jeff Haney, who has been overseeing this project for the Board of Selectmen, said he does not anticipate any cost overrides, but that there is a slight possibility it may cost more than anticipated to lay concrete at the base of field lights. If that happens, selectmen must come back to the Board of Finance for approval to spend money from the contingency account. There is $207,853 for contingency included in the bond package. 

First Selectman George Temple, who had planned on sending the project to a town meeting vote rather than a referendum vote, said he changed his mind after listening to residents who packed a public hearing held to discuss the plan Monday night at Town Hall. Several residents called for a referendum, and resident Janis Hardy said she would circulate a petition to force the town to send it to referendum.

Temple said Monday night that a petition would have “wasted a month’s worth of time that could be used to get the project done.”

“So from a standpoint of getting this project completed, which is what the Board of Selectmen wants to do, this is the best way to proceed,” he said.

A referendum usually costs the town about $8,000.

If the bond proposal passes by a simple majority, construction can begin shortly thereafter.

The Board of Finance said it has reached out to the state to find out what is reimbursable. The town anticipates that it can get between $575,000 and $625,000 reimbursed from the state, and the Board of Finance has vowed to seek that money after board member Bob DeBisschop made a motion to put it on record that the town will do everything in its power to secure that money. 

Dad in Oxford July 11, 2012 at 10:16 AM
Haney said, as did George, the project would come in on budget because they have contracts with a not to exceed amount, plus there is a contingency line item, so why are they now saying they may need more money already? The master craftsmen are laying the groundwork already...
Me July 11, 2012 at 11:53 AM
Re: more money - I believe that request to go back to the BoF to spend more money contained in the article is to get permission from the BoF to spend part of the contingency that is within the budget for that specific item they are talking about. I do not believe it means they would go back to the BoF and ask for more monies above the $3.1M. That's is how I take it. Do you have a same or different impression?
Paul Singley July 11, 2012 at 11:57 AM
So they would dip into the town's contingency account to pay for any cost overrides? Would that affect the town's bond rating? Those who know can help explain this so that we can give residents the correct information.
lila ferrillo July 11, 2012 at 12:13 PM
there should be sufficient funding in the contingency lines to cover any unforeseen last min glitches. The committee needs to come back to the BOF only if they need to take money from a contingency line not committed to that portion of the project. There should be no other funding required as all bids are in and are firm. Lila Ferrillo Chairman BOF
D Bogle July 11, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Why are we paying 20 years for a project that the estimated shelf life is 10 years? ( I imagine this is for the surfaces) It seems to me that in 12 to 15 years the town may have to pay for resurfacing. Hence, asking for more money. I may be naive, but why would there be any last minute glitches? If the companies that submitted their quotes provided a Thorough estimate, and the Town's engineers did a Complete analysis of the site and compared this to the estimates; again why any glitches?
Paul Singley July 11, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Thank you, Lila. That is helpful for readers.
lila ferrillo July 11, 2012 at 01:16 PM
It makes good sense to bond for 20 years when the interest rates are very low rather then taxing the people for a lg project. This does not mean that as the economic climate changes, and we put more money into the towns coffers, we can not pay this down quicker. For now, this is the best way to proceed. Also, there should not be any glitches. The committee has done their best to cover all scenarios but, as in all lg projects, unexpected things can happen. We do not expect any unexpected expenses, as I said the bids are in and they are firm. There is more than enough money in the contingency to cover things that may come up. For instance, should they need additional concrete added to the base for the lighting poles. This would be determined after they prepare the site. If the engineer feels that additional concrete is needed to support the light poles there is money in that contingency line. We are confident that the project will come in on budget and all the contingency money will not be needed. Lila Ferrillo
MOM July 11, 2012 at 01:33 PM
I thought in the beginning stages of this that someone said that we will not get any reimbursement from the State and now we are? What has changed or is this wrong information to begin with, rumor maybe?
lila ferrillo July 11, 2012 at 01:50 PM
In the beginning stages this was to be a stand alone project and did not qualify for reimbursement. Jim Hliva and I worked with the state to re-identify the project. It will now be identified as phase 4 of the original High School project and qualify for 25% reimbursement on most of the project except for the artificial turf. Once the people approve it at referendum, we will work with the BOE to file all the proper paper work to assure we receive the maximum we are entitled to under the state reimbursement grant. Lila Ferrillo
T-Bone July 11, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Is it true that the football field is to be built East-West (one side facing into the sun) as opposed to North -South (as most fields are)?
Janis Hardy July 11, 2012 at 02:57 PM
So they say, but they also say football games (if that was the concern) will be played at night so the sun will not be a factor.
Dad in Oxford July 11, 2012 at 04:20 PM
They say the for FOOTBALL games (probably only Varsity), but what about JV and Freshman Football, Soccer, Lacrosse, Field Hockey, Graduation, etc..all of these other events will not take place at night, so the field will not be optimal, unless everything will be at night...then you have a concern about electric use! Someone please address all of the other uses and sports related to the sun.
MOM July 11, 2012 at 04:46 PM
As far as I knew, freshmen sports were cut for last September based on last years budget. What sports that entails, I have no idea. Haven't heard if that will still continue in September. Maybe Coach Carb can answer that one.
Paul Singley July 11, 2012 at 05:12 PM
I wanted to clarify that I'm looking at the cost breakdown for the project and $207,853 is included as contingency. That is part of what is being bonded. The total bond amount is $3,095,622. What Selectman Haney was discussing Tuesday night about the possible cost override was for the lighting. However, if there are any cost overrides, it will come out of the contingency that was placed into the bond. Does that make sense? I apologize for any confusion.
Me July 11, 2012 at 05:18 PM
I suggest attend the meetings. There was a joint BoS/BoF meeting in early June, there was another meeting this past Monday night, and the Committee itself, up until last week, has been meeting weekly, all where information about the project was presented, and made available to the public. The Town has afforded opportunities (more than one) for everyone to learn about the details of this project and to have your questions answered thoroughly outside a 1,500 character limit on the Patch forum. You have concern for electric use at 2 to 3 hour spurts, 2 or 3 times a week for 3 months during the Fall/Winter season, only? (because Spring season it gets dark far later in the day so the lights will be used less, if at all.) In the big scheme of things, we are talking about pennies right now.
Coach Carb July 11, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Freshmen football and one freshmen girls sport were reinstated in the 2012-2013 school budget recently passed by the Board of Ed. (I had nothing to do with it! lol) Paul, I'm not sure if you ever reported on this... Thirteen year old freshmen playing JV football against Juniors in the top-heavy SWC was uncompetitive and frankly, unsafe.
Paul Singley July 11, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Hey Gerard: I believe I made mention of it in a school budget story or two. I will attempt to find the link. I agree that freshman football is a worthwhile program. Any idea what freshman girls sport is going to be reinstated? Will that be up to the new athletic director? Oh, and I found a link. From April 16 there is a brief mention in a bullet point. Probably because it's $16K out of a $13.6 million budget. It says, "Restoring freshmen football and one freshmen girls’ sport (either volleyball or softball) for $16,256;" - http://oxford-ct.patch.com/articles/oxford-town-school-budgets-nearly-set
TK July 11, 2012 at 09:18 PM
I have the same question. I attended the meeting Monday night and all that was talked about related to other sports was that it would accommodate them. I believe the issue was that because most football games were going to be at night, the east/west direction and the sun's glare wouldn't affect the player's. What wasn't discussed was the affect of the sun on the other sports which would be played during the day.
J July 11, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Lila In regards to: "The town anticipates that it can get between $575,000 and $625,000 reimbursed from the state, and the Board of Finance has vowed to seek that money after board member Bob DeBisschop made a motion to put it on record that the town will do everything in its power to secure that money. " Is the above refernced money from the state already factored into the cost of the field, meaning the actual cost would be $3.6-3.7 million or does it come off the current cost of $3.1 million, making the cost to Oxford residents $2.6 million? Thank you!
lila ferrillo July 11, 2012 at 10:27 PM
It is not factored into the 3.1 that is going out to bonding. Any reimbursements will be returned to the towns general fund, thus reducing the actual cost of field by that amount. LF
Tanya Carver July 11, 2012 at 11:25 PM
A good amount of these questions were answered at Monday night's public hearing. Specially the reasons for the location of the football field. Paul maybe when the minutes of this hearing are available they can be added to this post. Thank you Lila for the due diligence of the BOF on trying to get funds from the State for this project.
MOM July 12, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Thanks, for the clarification, Coach Carb!
Janis Hardy July 12, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Seeing that Paul didn't include this information in his article, additional questions and comments can be made at the Town Meeting on this project which will be held on Tuesday, July 17th at 7:00 PM at the Oxford High School. Just the vote is going to referendum, so there will be ample opportunity for additional information gathering for those who were unable to attend any previous meetings. People work, run their kids around to innumerable activities, or simply take a vacation during the summer, and can't always attend every meeting! However, other than what you will find in the print media or on the town's website, this will be your last opportunity to ask questions, so if you have any, please make them known!
Me July 12, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Don't need to attend all meetings. Just one to get your questions answered.
Angela July 13, 2012 at 08:25 AM
This is so long over due... I was happy to see our town get a much needed high school, I'll be even happier to see it finalized with a place where the kids can compete with dignity and pride. I'm sure it will mean a great deal to the kids as well!! They are worth it as far as I'm concerned. Wish I had the money, I'd pay for it all!!!
Coach Carb July 13, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Angela, Lots of people might say that, but in your case I know it is true, you would pay for it yourself. For this field project to be passed on Brandon's birthday would be perfect. I know he is pleased.
Angela July 17, 2012 at 03:57 AM
It would mean so much to all of us :)


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