Turf Field To Be Named After Donors
Cold Spring Harbor’s board of education voted to rename Cold Spring Harbor High School’s main turf field after those who donated it at a board meeting on Tuesday night.
After a heated discussion and a 5-2 vote, the Cold Spring Harbor High School field, presently referred to as “Seahawk Field,” will soon be called, “The Lessing and Bouchard Field, Home of the Seahawks.”
The turf field was a gift to the district from the Lessing and Bouchard families in 2003. Evenly split between the two families, $976,795 was donated. It became one of Long Island’s first state-of-the-art fields.
The five who voted in favor of renaming the field said they wanted to express their gratitude to the Lessing and Bouchard families for their generous gift.
On the other hand, the two who voted against the proposal – Vice President Anthony Paolano and Trustee Lori Homer – had concerns about setting a precedent and taking away from student pride in the Seahawks name.
Paolano, who has been on the board for 13 years, motioned for an amendment to the resolution to call the field “Seahawk Field” and install a plaque inscribed with the words, “donated by the Lessing and Bouchard Families” at the site.
His suggestion was turned down by a majority of board members who argued the donors should get more recognition for their major contribution.
The name change comes 10 years after a May 27, 2003 contract that was agreed on by both donor parties and stated that the athletic field would be named “Seahawk Field” and that “a monument bearing a plaque recognizing this gift from Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Lessing and Family and Mr. Morton S. Bouchard III, and the Bouchard Family will be erected at the site.”
“We’re limited in how much money we can raise, and we should recognize people who make such significant donations such as this,” board member Robert Hughes said.
For seven consecutive years, beginning in the 2004-2005 school year, each donor also gave $30,000 towards a fund for replacement costs.
“I think it was a wonderful donation,” board member Amelia Walsh Brogan said. “And, they just paid for replacement costs.”
Homer said she fears that naming a school facility after a resident could lead to repercussions down the road. All facilities that bear a person’s name have been named for persons who worked in the school district.
“It was an extremely generous gift,” Homer said, “but this is public school property.”
Paolano argued that a smaller sum of taxpayers’ money also went toward some of the reconstruction costs.
“These two donors donated the turf field, not the track itself,” Paolano said. “We use taxpayers’ money to replace parts of the field, too.”
Although the Lessing and Bouchard families did not pay for the track, they provided funding for Cold Spring Harbor’s top-of-the-line bleachers and field lighting system.
Board trustee Dr. James Robins, who voted yes on the measure, said, “This is a major gift. At the time of the donation there was no expectation [to have it named for the donors].”
Several community members at the meeting who did not know about the proposal to rename the field wanted to speak on the topic but missed their opportunity to comment since the issue came up after the public participation portion of the meeting had concluded.
It has not been yet decided as to when the official naming of the field will take place.
“I just don’t want the name of the field to take away from the pride of the Seahawks,” Paolano said after the meeting.