By Ryan Pike
Managing Editor for Writing and Reporting
After a long year of fundraising and missed deadlines, the Jamesville-DeWitt Community Grounds for Action Committee can finally take a well-deserved sigh of relief. On Dec. 16, the J-D School District Board of Education made official their plan to accept the $1.2 million financial gift raised by the JDCGAC.
Although the Board has accepted the gift and now officially supports the effort, the money isn’t ready right now. As of Dec. 16, upwards of $1 million has been raised. The turf field will now be 195-feet rather than the 210-feet initially proposed, which explains why the gift has decreased from $1.6 million to a tentative figure of $1.2 million.
While the 195-foot field will accommodate any and all sports that J-D could offer, the transition to turf will not be forced upon any coaches. “There’s talk of three programs that don’t necessarily want to be on the turf,” said J-D Athletic Director John Goodson. Those three programs are Boys Soccer, Girls Soccer and Girls Lacrosse. Mr. Goodson speculated that those three coaches may not want their athletes to play on the turf in order to maintain advantages J-DHS’s grass fields give them. “I know [Boys Varsity Soccer Coach Joe Roach] likes to play on the wide field,” Mr. Goodson explained; “I’m not going to sit here and say ‘he’s not going to play on turf,’ because I don’t know if that’s true. I haven’t had that conversation with him, but I know what he likes.”
Regardless of any complaints individual coaches may have, the community has made clear that it wants a turf field. Strong community support has carried the JDCGAC up to this point, and it greatly helped the group at the Board meeting on Dec. 16. Mr. Goodson estimated that upwards of 100 people were in attendance for a meeting that typically draws fewer than 10. Attendees packed the meeting room and the smaller room that empties into it, with a few people even trickling out into the hallway.
Among the community members in attendance was Syracuse University Mens Basketball Head Coach Jim Boeheim, who has three children in the district. Coach Boeheim, not known as one to mince words, spoke briefly during the meeting and emphatically stated that he feels “embarrassed” to watch games on J-DHS’s current grass fields. “If you’re gonna tell me that what we have is better than what we’re gonna get, you’re not being honest,” he added.
The strong community support and unanimous Board approval were just what the JDCGAC was hoping for. “We are long overdue for turf,” said Amy Burns, a member of the JDCGAC; “After almost two years of working on this project, it feels great to know it is going to get done for our whole community and be here forever.”
The groundwork has been laid for the turf project to finally succeed, but there is still much to be done. “It may take a while to get our plans approved at the State level that is why we want to get them in as soon as possible,” Burns said; “[JDCGAC members] Joe Mueller and Pete Sala are working feverishly to get them done and approved by our Board to submit.”
As always, the JDCGAC is facing these obstacles with enthusiasm. “We can’t promise anything, but we are sure going to try for the Fall [of 2014],” Burns added; “Since we all accomplished what we have already, we believe it can be done!”