Coronavirus stalls Hermon effort to raise funds for artificial turf and all-weather track

A proposal to put artificial turf on Pottle Field in Hermon, where the high school football and boys and girls soccer teams play, has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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An eight-lane, all-weather track surrounding the field was also included in the proposal.

The school conducted an online survey last winter to see if residents in Hermon would favor the proposal, which would be funded by the taxpayers, Hermon High School athletic administrator Rick Sinclair said.

The project would cost a little under $2 million and that approximately 70 percent of survey respondents were in favor of it, he said.

“We were hoping to put it on the November ballot,” Sinclair said. “But because of COVID, we had to put it on the back burner.

“We didn’t want to burden anyone [financially],” he said. “The groundwork has been done. Once things settle down, we’ll revisit it.”

In addition to football and soccer, the Hermon field hockey team also would use the field, along with the JV and middle school teams. The field hockey team practices and plays its games on a separate field.

Hermon formed a committee and hired a surveyor to analyze the project, Sinclair said. Another survey will be performed when the dust settles from the coronavirus to see whether the residents would support the improvements.

Hermon’s football and varsity and JV soccer teams all use Pottle Field but primarily for games. They practice elsewhere.

The soccer teams practice at the elementary school field and in the outfield at the varsity baseball field.

“It’s not ideal,” said Hermon girls soccer coach M.J. Ball, who explained that Pottle Field has a nice, thick grass surface that is well-maintained but gets chewed up pretty quickly once in seasonal use.

Even though Hermon has earned the right to host four playoff games, two were moved to artificial turf fields at Husson University in Bangor and Hampden Academy due to the condition of Pottle Field, football coach Kyle Gallant said.

“The field sits on slate so it really holds water,” Gallant said. “With all the use and abuse it gets, by the end of October, you could find yourself standing calf-deep in mud.”

Ball said his team can usually host one playoff game there before needing to seek an artificial turf field for the next one.

“Most years, by October, if we get any type of rain and play a game on it, it’s pretty hard for the field to come back,” Sinclair said.

Getting artificial turf would be important for the school and the entire community that would get to use it, Gallant said.

Ball said several youth teams in various sports would be able to utilize the field, which is located close to the high school and is easily accessible.

Gallant hopes that an upgraded facility would enable Hermon to host championship games in football, soccer and field hockey, along with track and field.

He also pointed to the benefit of giving area students with school choice another reason to choose Hermon.

“That means a lot to kids these days,” he said.

Bangor voters in November will vote on a $2.7 million bond issue for a multisport artificial turf field and eight-lane track at Cameron Stadium.

Brewer also previously started a fundraising effort, geared toward private donors, to put a $4.5 million multisport artificial turf field complex on city land that encompasses the Heddericg Field baseball facility and surrounding area. The pandemic also has put that initiative on hold.

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