A plan for a multi-purpose athletic field with synthetic turf in the Evergreen school district was narrowly approved, but at least two Board of Education members say that didn’t ruffle feathers on the board.
By a 3-2 vote at its June 19 meeting, the board green-lighted a combined football-soccer field with synthetic turf at a cost of $689,550. The negative votes were cast by members Jack Carson and Ken Kormanyos.
The board also passed a motion to enter into a contract with Maumee Bay Turf Center of Oregon, Ohio, to install the turf. Work has begun, with a tentative completion date of Aug. 1
Unless the cost is aided by outside donations, it will be covered either entirely by the school district’s permanent improvement fund or by a combination of that fund and the district’s general fund.
Approval for the multi-purpose field came after a lengthy discussion involving an alternate plan to transform an existing practice field into a competitive soccer field with natural turf. The plan included installing an irrigation system to serve both the soccer field and the district’s existing football field, all at a cost not to exceed $690,000.
According to the meeting’s minutes, Kormanyos, who is serving his first year on the board, withdrew his motion to adopt the alternate plan, citing “insufficient cost information.”
Superintendent Jim Wyse acknowledged the vote narrowly approving a multi-purpose field may have stung some school board members. He said, however, the approved plan is good for the district.
“The board was studying options to provide a competition field for soccer for the past year, so after studying they ultimately decided it would be the best course of action to install a synthetic field for multi-purpose activities,” he said.
Wyse said transforming the football field into a multi-purpose athletic field makes sense because parking, restrooms, and concessions are readily available at the site. “The infrastructure is already there, we just need a new surface,” he said.
The football field was in need of refurbishing, and the current trend among many school districts is installing synthetic turf which doesn’t require the maintenance natural turf does, Wyse said.
He said the cost to build a separate soccer field, which would require a separate infrastructure, would be nearly the same as the cost of the planned multi-purpose field. He added that a separate soccer field would mean sacrificing one of the present athletic training fields.
“A soccer field would take away space,” Wyse said.
Dirt removed from the football field for installation of synthetic turf will be used to shore up the existing practice fields. And Wyse said the synthetic turf will allow the multi-purpose field to be used for practices as well.
For Board President Julie Carter, the decision to support a multi-purpose field “was a matter of simple economics.” She said synthetic turf appeared to be the less expensive choice.
She also favors its durability. “It’s a multi-purpose synthetic field. The band can be out there practicing all day…We don’t have to worry about water damage, we don’t have to worry about overuse.”
And Carter doesn’t think the vote for synthetic turf caused dissent among the board members. “We voted what our opinion was,” she said.
Board member Nora Kiefer also voted yes based on economics. She said maintaining two natural turf fields wouldn’t have been as sensible.
“The upkeep was going to be, in the long run, more money,” she said.
She wanted a more user-friendly facility, and a multi-purpose field “is a benefit to all students rather than a small portion of students.” She added that, for purposes of maintenance, the football field was off-limits to the public, “(and) now I think we have something that should be open to the community.”
Kiefer agrees the vote for synthetic turf didn’t cause undue contention among board members, saying, “I think the majority of the board is comfortable with the decision.”
She conceded a small portion of the Evergreen community seems unhappy with the decision, but “what their direct argument is, I am not 100 percent sure.” She received only one public request to explain her support.
Kormanyos and Carson did not respond to requests for comment.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.