The South River Board of Education has turned down a $1 million grant from Middlesex County for a new synthetic turf field at South River High School’s Denny Stadium. The board voted unanimously on the decision at its Oct. 23 meeting. Board member Donna Rafano abstained from the vote.

The board held a special meeting the prior week to discuss whether to accept or deny the grant, which was presented to then-Mayor Robert Szegeti in October 2007 by county Freeholder Christopher D. Rafano. The freeholder said talks with his son’s Pop Warner football coach led him to seek out the funds from the county’s Open Space and Recreation Trust Fund.

The school board cited economic reasons and the 19 percent increase in municipal taxes this year for denying the grant.

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“We were given $1 million for just the artificial turf field, and the county said we would need to have lights and provide maintenance on the field all at our own cost,” said Board of Education President Regis Wyluda.

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