Board votes to fund new track, artificial turf

Sean C. Morgan

The District 55 School Board on Monday, Jan. 12, committed to spending up to $195,000 next school year to resurface the track and install artificial turf on Husky Field.

Milt Moran told the board he represents a committee that has been looking at improving the track and football field. He is co-chairman, along with retired Supt. Larry Horton. The group is concerned about getting youths away from computers and outside, on the fields and playing sports.

“Right now, we’re only playing a few games a year on our football field,” Moran said. The district is spending a lot on the field, $25,000 to $30,000 for irrigation, mowing and maintenance.

“It’s a very expensive but underutilized resource,” Moran said. “We’d like to make this field a year-round field.”

With the improvements, it would become the main soccer field and it could be used for softball and baseball practice as well as PE and cheerleading, Moran said.

South Albany built an artificial field for $940,000, paid by the district, Moran said. “We believe we can do that for quite a bit less money.”

The committee will tap the Community Sports Development Council for the bulk of the project, Moran said. The CSDC is a large group of companies from across the nation that provide funds and resources to help build fields at a reduced rate for all kinds of organizations.

According to its website, CSDC will cover 50 percent to 70 percent of the cost of new sports venues through partial and like-kind donations of critical components and services.

Locally, the project will cost some $392,700, Moran said. The committee has $102,000 in in-kind commitments from Cascade Timber Consulting, Melcher Logging, THI, Rick Franklin Corporation, Graham Contracting, Haley Construction and Rice Logging.

Committing cash are Rice Logging for $30,000, Burke Logging for $30,000 and Reynolds Trucking for $10,000, Moran said.

The track needs attention too, Moran said. On Feb. 7, 2002, a wind storm leveled trees on the slope between the Junior High and Husky Field. Those trees were harvested and used to construct the new track.

In 2005, while Moran was still a member of the School Board, it created an long-term maintenance fund for future projects, including resurfacing the track.

“It seems like we just did it yesterday,” but the track needs to be resurfaced, he said.The high jump area also needs to be leveled when the crown in the football field is removed.

The long-term maintenance fund has $517,000 in it, with $25,000 committed to improvements in the Sweet Home High School auditorium, Moran said. His committee is asking the board to commit $75,000 to resurface the track, $20,000 to rebuild the high jump area and $100,000 toward the synthetic turf project.

The committee also is asking the board to set aside $25,000 per year to replace the turf, Moran said. That money would be saved by not paying for irrigation and field maintenance. It also is asking the district to set aside $7,500 per year to resurface the track in the future.

Upon successful fund-raising efforts, including the district’s commitment and grants, the committee will begin work in June, removing sod and soil, replacing it with an aggregate base and drainage, Moran said. On Aug. 4, following the Oregon Jamboree, turf installation begins. The project will replace the asphalt at the high jump and install a curb along the south end of the field. The turf project will be complete on Aug. 16.

Track resurfacing will start on Aug. 18. The project will be complete on Sept. 1 in time for a ribbon cutting ceremony and the first game of next school year.

The field will be available, based on priority, to programs across the district, said football Coach Dustin Nichols. Others using the field will include girls and boys high school soccer, junior varsity programs and junior high programs.

The field was the site of seven games this year, which breaks down to about $7,500 per game, Nichols said. Next year, following installation of the artificial turf, it will hold some 38 games. He encourages others to use the field after completion.

“In Lebanon, the lights are on pretty much 24/7,” Nichols said. “It’s going to be a discussion with (Business Manager) Kevin (Strong) about how much you want to spend on lights. Day after day, it should be a (PE) class at each of the thing, as far as I’m concerned.”

The project has an estimated value of about $1.3 million, Nichols said. The CSDC is covering about $900,000 of it, and Sweet Home is realizing three or four dollars for every dollar spent.

It pays itself off in three to four years, Moran said.

Supt. Keith Winslow said he supports the project. Getting children outside is worth a ton, and for PE, “they can get outside and that in this kind of weather. We can’t do that now without having soggy shoes.”

Compared to the cost of water and maintenance, the cost of the project isn’t bad, said board member Leena Ellis. It will provide substantial savings.

Board member Chanz Keeney said he has confidence in the people doing the project.

The board voted 7-0 to commit the money. Present and voting yes were Jason Van Eck, Keeney, Chairman Mike Reynolds, Nick Augsburger, David VanDerlip and Ellis. Kevin Burger and Jenny Daniels were absent.