FARMINGDALE, NY- Farmingdale residents voted in favor of a bond that will fund a state-of-the-art athletic complex and aquatic center at Howitt Middle School. The bond will additionally fund ball-field renovations at the high school and elementary schools in the district.
The $36 million bond was voted on by Farmingdale residents last October. After a 3,000 voter turnout, the bond passed on a close call, accumulating 1,600 votes in favor.
According to a pamphlet that was mailed to all town residents, the complex will create more opportunities for Farmingdale students, community leagues, clubs and community events.
“It will give kids a healthy outlet as something to do,” said Farmingdale resident Gary Abrahamsen, 60. “In that sense I’m in favor of it.”
George Kontorakis, 20, a Farmingdale resident who lives across the street from Howitt Middle School, believes the complex, “will bring more athletic awareness to the community and to the children.”
Once the project is complete, the middle school complex will include both competitive and community pools, a competitive track, and two major turf fields which will include football, baseball and softball fields. Both fields will also be stadium lit for nighttime activities.
According to the Superintendent of the Farmingdale School district, John Lorentz, the construction of the middle school aquatic complex is expected to begin in the Spring of 2018. This is because the district is still awaiting approval from the state.
Saltzman East Memorial, one of the four elementary schools in the district, has already begun renovations. The High School field will be undergoing its renovations this summer.
Each school field will be renovated periodically, and all the renovations are expected to be fully complete by the Summer of 2020.
According to the Lorentz, it will take at least two years from the start date to build the pool.
In addition to the benefits a brand new sports complex will bring to the district, residents are projected see a decrease in property tax as a result.
According to the district website, residents will see a $71 decrease in property tax because of the surplus the town currently has. The bond also won’t increase the district’s debt.
Constructing a brand new aquatic center and renovating two large fields will be a long-term process, which could affect those living in the neighborhood with construction noise and road closings.
Abrahamsen said that construction is only an issue with him, “if they’re going to be blocking or closing the road I live on.” Abrahamsen lives on Secatogue Ave., across the street from the current softball and baseball fields.
According to the Farmingdale Village Hall, the town doesn’t expect road closings to be an issue, and believe the construction will be kept on the school premises.
These new complexes are also part of the town’s larger effort to revitalize the Main Street and downtown area.
“You’re going to see a tremendous influx of people coming into the village,” said Farmingdale Mayor, Ralph Ekstrand. “Being that the Middle School is only a two minute walk from the downtown area, it is up to the village merchants, restaurant owners and shop owners to get the people to walk from watching their kids play into downtown.”
“If they have the two fields occupied and the swimming complex occupied, there will be several hundred people there,” continued Ekstrand. “They’re going to need a place to kill time in-between use of the athletic fields, or a place to sit down and eat before or after using the fields.”
This was one of the major reasons the school district decided to build the complex at the middle school, as opposed to the high school.
“The high school is on a dead end that contains only residential parking.” said Ekstrand. “It is much easier for teams to come to Farmingdale downtown than it would be to get to the high school.”
“It looks awesome,” says Kontorakis. “I don’t see anything wrong with reconstructing the athletic complex to contribute to a more appealing area and school district.”
Gary Abrahamsen, 60
George Kontorakis, 20
Superintendent of Farmingdale Schools
Farmingdale Village Mayor