In 2013, residents of the Harborfields school district were asked to support borrowing $3 million to pay for two artificial turf athletic fields. The voters answered with a resounding "heck no," 2,075 to 429.
Next month, district voters will again be asked to support borrowing almost $2 million to put turf on the high school field. But supporters are angry that the money is being voted on in a ballot proposal separate from a larger $11.7 million bond for money to upgrade school laboratories, auditoriums and athletic facilities.
And the way the two ballot initiatives are structured, if furious turf supporters build a coalition to defeat the big bond for school needs, as a protest, or voters simply don't want to support the larger bond, the smaller bond for synthetic turf automatically will be defeated.
The whole thing is being handled perfectly by the Harborfields school board. If Harborfields residents want to spend millions on a turf field, it's their money, mostly. But including the already-defeated artificial turf in a bond vote for necessities, as proponents of the new field wanted, would have been dishonest.
The argument has divided the community. Turf supporters are adamant that the field is important and they're furious that the vote structure is, they say, rigged against them. Turf detractors are equally adamant, and both sides have been accused of Internet bullying.
It's a terrible shame that neighbors have turned against each other over an athletic field. But if residents want it, the project should be able to win approval on its own merits. And if the residents don't want it, they shouldn't have to pay for it.