Artificial turf plans raise concerns

Editor:

The School Board is concerned about a conflict in construction schedule and the presentation of the Oregon Jamboree this year if the turf project is to go forward at the same time.

Natural grass is my preference for the field. If they do decide to go ahead, more time should be taken to plan this complicated dance of dump trucks, construction equipment, Jamboree guests and the top musical talent the Jamboree has scheduled. The Jamboree doesn’t run for just three days, they start weeks ahead to set up the stage, arrange for campers, signage and other arrangements.

The Jamboree has been an economic benefit for Sweet Home for many years. Don’t mess it up. If the turf project must go forward, take more time to plan it, do it next year.

Here’s what I have to say to the School Board, in a letter delivered to them at their meeting last week:

The proponents of the football field project to convert the field from natural grass to artificial turf have gained a great deal of momentum with their presentations and publicity in favor of the proposal.

Before a football game there is the traditional coin toss to determine who will receive the kickoff and who will defend which goal. The coin has two sides, heads and tails. Most issues have two or more sides, pro and con. Most of what you have heard has been the proponents’ side of the issue; I ask that you consider the other side of the issue in favor of the natural grass field.

The proponents make two main arguments: One, that the conversion will cost the School District only $100,000 initially and that the savings from less maintenance cost will fund a reserve over the eight to 10 years of life of the artificial turf to pay for the replacement that may be needed at that time. Secondly, they argue that you can use the field for many more uses and benefit more people directly. What a deal, why not?

After reviewing the board minutes and the articles in The New Era newspaper, I also took time on the Internet to search for relevant articles. Two in particular speak to the downside of artificial turf. One article, viewable at turf.uark.edu/turfhelp/archives/021109.html, says the maintenance cost savings is a myth and provides backup information.

There goes the promise of a free reserve fund. That article also mentions a survey of NFL players, 73 percent of whom prefer natural grass.

The other article talks about the women’s world soccer players’ preference for natural grass. There goes the argument for the popularity of artificial turf and expected greater use of the field by other players and teams. That article can be found at http://www.postandcourier.com/article/…/141009863.

You will still have the other fields of grass along 18th Avenue and be maintaining them. I would hope you do not intend to mandate the use of the artificial turf if it is found to be less desirable only to justify the expense of the artificial turf..

Please do your own search of the Internet. This would go a long way toward doing your diligence. Be sure you are making the correct decision.

I suggest that you appoint a three-person panel from your board to look at both sides of the coin on this issue. Have some skepticism in your evaluation to arrive at what is really best for the district.

Once the project begins you will be on the hook for decades of expensive replacements of the artificial turf. You don’t want to ask the athletes to play on torn, worn out and shredded turf. Nor do you want to have to drain money from other purposes to pay for artificial turf replacement or go to a bond issue when inflation and prices drive up the cost.

You have a good natural grass field now. You have the equipment, staff and procedures in place to maintain it right along with the other grass fields and areas. After discounting the promises made favoring artificial turf, do you really need it?

Are the benefits truly there for the Sweet Home community?

There is also the Oregon Jamboree to be considered. If you go ahead this year with the turf project on this short notice, can the organizers really get it produced to specification without negatively impacting the Jamboree schedule and attendance? I

f a negative impact is felt by the attendees due to the commotion of the turf project, it may redound to future years as well. You received $35,000 this year from last years Jamboree, don’t compromise that revenue opportunity.

Dave Ericson

Sweet Home

Chamber real key to improving city

Editor:

I was reading about the Livability seminar that was held recently in Sweet Home.

The presenter was disappointed that more young people were not in attendance. Apparently, he has forgotten just how busy young families are. Many families have both parents working and then there are the meals after work, the homework for kids, etc., etc.

It isn’t young people who create cities; it is older people with life experiences who make cities what they are. Young people pick the places they want to live based on how well the generations of people before them managed the town. They look at things like the costs to live there, access to work or how far it is to commute to their existing jobs.

I have been to these “workshops” and don’t see anything come of them. It’s nice to see that Sweet Home has extra money to pay “experts” to brainstorm these things.

What we need is a good Chamber of Commerce to attract companies to our town to be able to hire our young people, so they won’t have to go elsewhere to find employment. To get a good, experienced manager to do that will involve paying a good, experienced manager that knows how to do the job.

It is not a volunteer position. It is a professional position.

But does Sweet Home really want change?

Marilyn Taggart Schlim

Sweet Home

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