GENEVA — For 28 years, Geneva resident Beth Carney’s foot tapped to the beat of the Geneva High School Marching Band during Friday night football games.
Carney didn’t so much attend the games as they came to her — Carney’s back yard borders Memorial Field, the school district’s former track and field and football stomping grounds.
But the band doesn’t play at Memorial Field anymore, as Geneva’s student athletes now train, practice and play at the state-of-the-art Spire Institute in Harpersfield Township.
The grandstand, donated by the Class of 1975, was destroyed by an arson fire last year. Last month, the Board of Education announced the termination of the field’s land lease with Spire. Last week the board said it will demolish the grandstands, visitor’s bleachers and press box at Memorial Field and remediate the property. The board hopes to collaborate with city of Geneva officials in the maintenance and future use of the land.
The fire, set by two juveniles, was the final blow to Memorial Field.
“The board has decided and has been forthcoming that Memorial Field, unfortunately, does not meet the long-range plans of our district,” board president David Foote said. “Finances and practicality of Memorial Field use is not prudent. These decisions have not been taken lightly and have been made considering what is in the best interest of our students.”
But even as Foote’s strong voice announced the fate of Memorial Field, rumors continued to swirl around the community — does the board have the authority to end the athletic days of Geneva’s field of dreams?
Don Branford said his graduating class — the Class of 1975 — donated the now-destroyed grandstand, and he understood the field was donated by former judge and mayor of Geneva Joseph Mallone, and that no transactions were to occur regarding the property.