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Vandals Scorch A Giant Dollar Sign In East Hampton Football Field

Originally Posted: July 09, 2009

Brett Mauser
Aaron Boyd

  |   8 Comments · Print Article

The East Hampton football team's 2009 debut was supposed to come September 4 against Copiague but now the date is in jeopardy after a vandal burned a massive dollar sign onto the turf. Photos by Brett Mauser

East Hampton - Police in East Hampton have no suspects identified in the scorched branding of a large dollar sign to the East Hampton High School football field which occurred somewhere between Saturday night and Sunday morning, July 4 to July 5. Vandals scorched a 60 x 20 foot dollar sign into the artificial turf. The defacement came with a typed five-page letter left in an envelope at the scene that, according to police, cited the town's budget woes.

The vandalism was discovered Sunday morning by David Fioriello, the district's middle school football coach, who had been riding his bike in the area. At 9:56 a.m., Fioriello reported to police that a vandal had scorched a sizable dollar sign onto the field, melting the plastic glass and sand-rubber infill. East Hampton Detective Sergeant Chris Anderson confirmed that the damage was done in the early morning hours under the cover of darkness.

The damage to the artificial turf field was called "extensive," requiring a replacement of the turf rather than cosmetic work being done.

Det. Anderson said the investigation is ongoing and as yet no suspects have been identified. Police are also uncertain of the incendiary substance used to vandalize the field. The accompanying letter, although unavailable for release, is takes issue with the school board's business decisions according to Anderson who said "the author was expressing their concerns and dissenting opinions as to how the school board conducts business."

According to East Hampton Athletic Director Joe Vasile-Cozzo, strips of the synthetic turf are sewn together to form the field. Vasile-Cozzo, who was notified of the damage shortly after Fioriello's discovery, suspected that the district would be able to replace the damaged portion rather than replace the field in its entirety and that insurance is working out the coverage details. Amityville-based LandTek Group, which installed the field, will be in within days to assess the damage.

Either way, Vasile-Cozzo called the damage "extensive" and said "in the long run, it's going to cost people more money. I have no idea why someone would do that."

In the last decade, FieldTurf facilities have been installed all over the country, including many on Long Island, at a rapid rate in order to maximize field availability while minimizing maintenance costs. In addition to East Hampton, an artificial turf field opened in Southampton in October 2007. Westhampton school district officials had hoped to replace their grass field with artificial turf but the notion was temporarily tabled due to the sluggish economy.

Use of synthetic fields are more diverse, as in East Hampton where the six varsity teams football, boys soccer, girls soccer, field hockey, boys lacrosse and girls lacrosse all use the field throughout the school year, while both the boys and girls outdoor track teams utilize the track encircling it. "Even though there was a cost to it when it was first installed, we never have a rainout, we never have a field that's not playable," Vasile-Cozzo said. "It's very versatile."

The football team practiced under a setting sun on Wednesday while the vandal operated under the cover of darkness this past weekend.

Its versatility did come with a price tag a hefty $1.1 million in the case of East Hampton, a community whose town budget officer was charged with re-allocating $8 million from a community preservation fund to cover budget shortfalls just three weeks ago. Recently, the East Hampton School District Board of Education passed a $62.4 million budget that necessitated a 4.74 percent town tax hike.

Vasile-Cozzo voiced his concern about the field not being playable for the fall and while the soccer and field hockey teams could play on the grass field adjacent to the school, he could not speculate at this time where the school's football teams would play their games.

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Guest (Springs resident) from East Hampton says::
One wonders whether or not the unstable perpetrator realizes that the value of his or her property is favorably affected by a strong local district. You're welcome. Furthermore, the overall character and atmosphere of any small town is significantly influenced by the optimism and hopefulness of its youngest citizens, again, largely as a result of pride in their school and faith in the belief that it is preparing them adequately to contribute and compete in a larger world. No thanks necessary. The next time you feel like defacing something used by hardworking, disciplined, and self-sacrificing student athletes, remind yourself that you're allegedly an adult and sign up for a yoga class.
Jul 19, 2009 8:12 am

Guest (Mike) from Suffolk County says::
This is a heartwarming piece! Congratulations to the perpetrator for raising awareness about crimes that are far worse than his. Maybe the school districts will stop bleeding people to death now.
Jul 15, 2009 7:17 pm

Guest (Christine) from shamptons-hamptons says::
Yeah that's not funny...it's hilarious!
Jul 13, 2009 5:20 pm

Guest (kathy) from springs says::
Protests have been around for centuries... how about having a "TEA PARTY" to really protest our TAXATION WITHOUT ANY REPRESENTATION... and unexplained useage of our tax money...they are having TEA PARTIES all over the US... This $ sign is just a dumb unorganized protest... It is just amazing how the polititans are getting away with such abuse..........
Jul 12, 2009 9:55 am

Guest (big bill) from wsthampton beach says::
that is the act of a sick person . to do something like that to kids to a school. i holp the police get this person .
Jul 12, 2009 6:54 am

Guest (clamming girl) from westhampton says::
Yeah, nice move idiot...your complaint is apparently about financial issues, and you destroy something that is going to cost money to repair or replace. Gee, now you're thinkin'! Go back and take Political Activism 101, pal!
Jul 10, 2009 9:50 pm

Guest (susan) from westhampton says::
. . . or on Bill's forehead?
Jul 10, 2009 9:15 pm

Guest (Bonac) from EH says::
gee this makes a lot of sense, what an idiot. way to ruin something for a bunch of kids who had nothing to do with the budget mess. burn a dollar sign on town hall why don't you.
Jul 10, 2009 12:28 pm


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