Hermon voters Tuesday approved by a wide margin a $3.9 million project to construct an eight-lane rubber track and make a major upgrade to an athletic field adjacent to the high school that includes the installation of artificial turf.
The proposed $2.7 million track and field improvements passed with the support of 65 percent of voters, with 2,097 people voting yes and 1,109 voting no. The artificial turf installation was approved with 56 percent, with 1,790 voting yes and 1,404 voting no.
It was the second time in 16 months that residents approved plans for the work, but rising construction costs pushed the cost up dramatically from the $2.4 million approved in June 2021.
That proposal did not include the $1.2 million for artificial turf passed Tuesday.
Alan Meisler, 33, voted for the new track and field improvements. The father of a 3-year-old, he said Tuesday that it was a way “to invest in the children and future children of Hermon.”
The mother of a Hermon Hawks football player voted for the track and field upgrades but not for the artificial turf.
“We don’t need the turf right now,” Christiana Campbell, 43, said after voting. “Even if taxes go up, this project will be worth it.”
Kristen Shirland, 42, said that there are more pressing needs in Hermon schools than athletics. She voted against the project.
“We have a teacher shortage and crowded schools that need to be addressed,” she said.
The new track will be built on unused land next to the tennis courts at Hermon High School. The town also plans to repair and install drainage and a well at Pottle Field, where Hermon High athletes play soccer and football. The work also will include adding a storage building and bleachers and renovating the concessions stand.
Construction could begin in about two weeks, according to Town Council Chair Steven Thomas, who has been working to get the project on the ballot and approved for three years. The goal is to have the playing field ready for fall 2023.
The town has about $1 million in hand — $400,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds the town has received from the federal government, $295,000 from the Hermon Elementary School Recreation Reserve Account and $300,000 from the School Maintenance and Reserve Account — to begin the work.
Last week, Thomas announced that the Pottle family, for whom the field is named, would contribute $400,000 to the project. Other donations are being solicited but the majority of the project would be funded by issuing bonds.
In the special election to fill an unexpired term on the Town Council, Danielle Haggerty beat former councilor Anthony Reynolds by 32 votes to win the seat.
Haggerty will fill the seat vacated by Phillip Richardson, who moved to Carmel this summer and resigned from the council. Hermon holds local elections in June.
Haggerty received 1,218 votes to Reynolds’ 1,186. Candidates Everett Buzzell and Chelcie Shappy received 338 and 203 votes, respectively.
Haggerty is expected to be sworn in at Thursday’s council meeting.