GORHAM — Voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a plan to borrow $3 million to build a synthetic-turf athletic field and make improvements to the Narragansett Elementary School and the public safety building.

The town’s voters also approved a $31.2 million school budget for 2011-12 by a vote of 1,047-517, according to the town’s website.

The vote on the $3 million bond issue was 1,272-309. Eighty percent of ballots were cast against the proposal.

Husband and wife Frederick Gifford and Susan Pendleton said they voted to approve the school budget but weren’t in favor of borrowing money for a multipurpose stadium with synthetic turf at Routes 25 and 202.

“I don’t see why we need an artificial-turf field. It’s Gorham,” Pendleton said after voting.

“It’s fluff,” said her husband.

Victor Woodbrey, a former baseball coach and athletic director for Cape Elizabeth schools, thought the proposed stadium with lights and bleachers was excessive.

“I think they should put the turf on the present field (at the high school),” he said.

The proposal called for borrowing $2 million for the stadium and a building with a concession stand and locker room. The other $1 million would cover the cost of creating separate drop-off loops for parents and buses at Narragansett School, and additional parking at the school and public safety building.

Kassandra Barbour said she would have supported the school improvements, but not along with the stadium project.

“There are too many things lumped together,” she said.

Town Manager David Cole said Tuesday that he was hoping for a clear vote from residents “so there’s not a muddled message.”

Thom Courtney said he was still undecided about the stadium as he walked into the polling booth. Ultimately, he supported it.

“Taking on debt concerns me, but at the same time I see how much revenue comes in with a soccer tournament,” he said.

In Dean Belanger’s opinion, supporters of the stadium overestimated the boost it would give to the local economy. He also wasn’t swayed by the argument that it’s a good time to build because interest rates are low.

“The money isn’t there,” he said.

 

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard contributed to this report.

 

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: lbridgers@mainetoday.com