Despite the concerns of community members, the district will be moving ahead with the installation of lights on the high school baseball field.
During a Richfield School Board special session Thursday night, a motion to postpone the controversial $200,000 project and revisit it in December 2013 did not receive a majority vote, deadlocking at 3-3.
Prior to the board's decision, the public was allowed to speak, however, most in attendance were displeased with the final result.
“That’s a shame,” one audience member said shaking his head following the board’s decision.
“Good thing we had a public forum so we could be listened to,” another shouted.
“You’ve got my vote,” one said sarcastically while exiting the board room.
Those against the project—many of whom were holding signs in protest—believed a district struggling to close an achievement gap and in need of passing a referendum this fall, should spend the money in the classroom or use it bolster the general fund balance. However, those in favor of the lights believed the addition could create a greater since of community pride, make night games possible and generate revenue through facility rentals.
The project uses revenue from the new turf field to pay for the installation over seven years and pairs with a $275,000 Hennepin County grant received to revamp the ball field. The spending was approved 4-2 at the June 11 meeting, after the board discovered the turf field would generate nearly double the revenue it expected this year and be sufficient in years to come. Board Members Todd Nollenberger and John Easterwood were the two who voted against the project that evening.
After public outcry, Board Member John Ashmead joined Nollenberger and Easterwood in the request for a special session and, in turn, were the three who voted to postpone the project Thursday night.
Details on when the lights project will begin, however, some construction has already begun. Stay tuned for more from the meeting in another article.