Parents of students at the Edna M. Moyle Primary School met with members of the PTA executive committee on Thursday night to hear about plans for developing the school playing field after MLA Ezzard Miller complained government had not earmarked any funds for the project.
Mr. Miller, PTA immediate past president, described progress in what he called “the ongoing battle to get the playfield sorted out.”
He referred to the press conference he had called on the subject last month and government’s response. He said there was no specific funding in the budget this year and government wanted to put the project off until 2019.
There had been a further meeting since then: “We buried the hatchet,” Mr. Miller explained. “We [North Siders] came up with a proposal to do it ourselves.”
The “it” is the installation of artificial turf immediately west of the school on land that is rocky and flood-prone. Concerns expressed by the Ministry of Education included proper drainage in the area, and site preparation.
Ministry spokeswoman Miriam Foster said Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly was in caucus Monday and was not available for comment.
Mr. Miller said he had taken advice from Donovan Ebanks, former deputy governor, who earlier in his career was chief engineer with the Public Works Department. Mr. Ebanks grew up in North Side, attended the district primary school, and has maintained his interest in the district.
Mr. Miller said Mr. Ebanks advised that one of the first things needed was a level survey to establish how much the area needed to be filled and where. Mr. Miller reported that the survey had already begun, and he expected that phase of the project to have been completed by Friday, Aug. 10.
Mr. Ebanks subsequently told the Cayman Compass that he would be keeping in touch with Mr. Miller on the project and hoped to see it completed soon.
“If there are other areas that I can assist, or get others to do so, I will. I think it will be a definite enhancement to the school,” he said.
Mr. Miller and current PTA president Carol Saunds expressed their belief that this attitude was strong among other people who had attended the school or who retained ties with the district.
They hope truck owners and heavy equipment operators will want to get involved. A couple of 15- or 20-yard dump trucks will be needed to transport fill from the quarry in East End. Then, “a couple of men with backhoes can do the rough spread of the fill.”
Ms. Saunds encouraged parents to come out with rakes and shovels to help spread the fill and show their support for the project. A communications channel has been opened with all parents by the school, she noted, so parents will be updated on the project.
Hauling and spreading the fill could take five to 10 days, Mr. Miller suggested.
The next steps will be the laying of hot-mix asphalt and the laying out of the artificial turf. Mr. Miller said he has been speaking with Island Paving and Paramount Carpet for these stages. He also hoped the National Roads Authority could help.
Funds will have to be raised to cover what the PTA executive cannot get donated.
Earlier this year, a donor purchased the turf for $17,000 and then paid to have it shipped to Miami, Mr. Miller said. The school PTA paid $5,248.24 to have it shipped to Cayman. Government agreed to waive duty and the Port Authority agreed to donate storage fees, he reported.
Government has agreed to the proposed plan for the site, Mr. Miller said. It will include a football playing area 75 by 150 feet, with a four-lane track around it.
A man in the audience asked about the potential consequences of the Astroturf being the indoor variety. Mr. Miller said he had checked with the supplier and was told that, because it was not treated for protection from ultra-violet rays, it might fade.
If the turf lasts three years, he suggested, the government would have time to budget for something more permanent. That goal will be easier to reach because the basic foundation will already be in place.
Once the playfield is completed, a hard court on the east side of the school could be opened for public use, he said.
“I believe you can get something done if you just do it,” Mr. Miller concluded.