With restrictions loosened on the use of Community Preservation Act funds, Hingham School Committee members are looking into the possibility of using the tax-generated income for a multipurpose field at Hingham High.
In the past, Community Preservation funding has been restricted for purchasing open space, restoring historical properties, or building affordable housing.
But now, towns can use the surcharge on residents’ property taxes for recreational purposes, and town officials are hoping to utilize that money in new ways.
School Committee members will discuss the possibility of using the funds for the second phase of a fields’ renovation project during their meeting on Sept. 10.
Already the School Committee renovated the tennis courts for $60,000 and renovated the running track for $447,000 from a Town Meeting appropriation. The committee has also been able to design the multipurpose field with $275,000 received from Town Meeting.
School Committee members said they would come back to the town in a subsequent meeting to procure funding for the construction of the field.
If CPA money is sought, an application would have to be submitted to the Community Preservation Committee by Oct. 15.
“We promised everyone when we were at Town Meeting in April that we would look for all sources of funding, and this is just one source we may be able to use,” said Caryl Falvey, chairwoman of the School Committee. “As a committee, we haven’t decided to apply for it.”
Due to the restrictions on the use, the town wouldn’t be able to use the funding to purchase or install synthetic turf, but could use the money for drainage, relocation of the softball field, or parking and traffic issues.
“I haven’t even talked to CPC yet. I just wanted to make sure everyone on School Committee was aware that legislation had changed which would allow us to apply for funds,” Falvey said.
Decisions have yet to be made on what kind of surface will be installed at the multipurpose field, but the issue of artificial turf vs. grass will be spelled out along with a discussion on lighting at a public meeting next Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Hingham High School.
With such controversial issues at hand, Falvey expects the turnout to be large.
“It’s going to be a big one I think. They are bringing in turf and lighting experts … those are the two hot issues that they still need to nail down,” she said.
From there, the ad hoc committee will make a decision on the turf and lighting and make a recommendation to the School Committee.
Although School Committee members aren’t expecting to request money to finish off the fields project until April Town Meeting, Falvey hopes to get everything in order by December.
“In order to get a warrant article, you have to have your warrant articles in good shape by Dec. 20, and our budget season is so tough - meetings Monday and Thursdays. Anything extra we try to wrap up before budget process [begins],” Falvey said.
In the meantime, final touches are being put on the track, which will open to the public next week. The tennis courts have already been finished.
With half of the athletic overhaul complete, it really shows how dire the updates were, Falvey said.
“What it shows us is how out of date our facilities are. Just compared to other schools, Norwell, Hanover … It’s nice to have a track you can be proud of, and tennis courts where you don’t have grass growing out of the tracks,’ Falvey said. “We can do a project, and it’s probably one of the quickest completed in Hingham. We did it in a year and it shows we manage our projects well and it would be great to get the rest of it completed for the students and for the town.”