BATH – More than 1,000 voters have signed a petition that could force a referendum on borrowing $300,000 to subsidize the installation of an artificial playing surface at McMann Field.

City Clerk Mary White said she will present the petition, signed by 1,024 registered voters, to the City Council at its meeting at 6 tonight at City Hall.

Councilors will have the option of rescinding their Feb. 3 vote, which authorized borrowing money for the turf, or scheduling a citywide vote June 8 to ask residents if they support the plan.

City Council Chairman Bernie Wyman said the economy is not as bad as some people may think, and he feels confident that the borrowing would be approved by voters. He also likes a proposal from the Recreation Department that promises to repay about $35,000 a year on the loan.

“I’m 100 percent in favor of putting this issue to the people,” said Wyman, who cast the deciding vote in support of borrowing the money.

But not everyone agrees with Wyman, including Councilor Kyle Rogers.

Rogers gathered petition signatures, as did Councilor Ruthe Pagurko.

Rogers said that borrowing money for an artificial playing surface at a time when teachers could be laid off sends the wrong message.

“It’s all about the spending,” Rogers said. “It starts at the federal level and it is snowballing down to us. Where does it stop?”

Brad Walfield, a spokesman for Fields for Our Future, said his group raised about $270,000 over three years before “we really hit a wall” in the effort.

Walfield said an artificial playing surface at McMann, which is off Congress Avenue near Bath Middle School, would increase the amount of time teams can use the field.

Walfield said a new, improved field could also attract state tournaments and sporting festivals.

“We could use the field 10 times as much as we do now,” he said. “It’s the equivalent of building several new fields.”

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]