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Lakewood Boosters to seek synthetic turf field

HEBRON – Lakewood Athletic Boosters presented an ambitious plan to the Lakewood School Board Nov. 13 to raise $660,000 for synthetic turf for Calhoun Field.

While school board members approved the project, they were clear that it is a community project, not a board project. The new turf is to be privately funded; the Lakewood School District is not responsible for the new turf.

Booster President Kevin Krier said the boosters would like to raise the money by May 1, 2014, so a new field could be installed during the summer, but realistically there is no set time-line. Work will not begin until the money is raised.

“It is ambitious,” said school board president Judy White. She said the Nov. 13 meeting was the first time she’d heard of the boosters’ plans. Frankly, she said, the athletic boosters’ last couple fundraisers, in which they raffled a camper trailer and later a Ford Mustang to raise money for student transportation, weren’t very successful.

“No one is hurt by trying,” said Krier, adding if it takes an additional year to raise $660,000, then so be it.

Board member Tim Phillips wondered what would happen if the field took longer than a summer to install. On the other hand, “More and more schools are doing this,” he said.

“I’m not against this, but I’m not totally for it,” said board member Bill Gulick. He was also concerned about the boosters’ previous fundraising attempts.

“Without permission, we have no chance to pull it off,” said Krier.

“I think it’s a good idea, but people want to mull it over a little bit,” said board member Forrest Cooperrider.

“That’s the stipulation: have the money before we get started,” said Lakewood Athletic Director Bo Hanson.

White said she wouldn’t want the project to divide the community. She said people may ask why the school is installing a state of the art sports field “while we’re not hitting all the marks academically.”

Cooperrider said he didn’t want to kill the boosters’ enthusiasm, and moved to allow the boosters to begin fundraising while being clear that the board would not be approving the project itself. All board members agreed, except for Gulick, who abstained from voting.

“It’s your project,” said White to the boosters. She said it’s a community project, not a board project.

Prior to the vote, Krier explained that a state of the art synthetic turf field not only looks more professional than grass, it requires a fraction of the maintenance of a grass field and eliminates weather from being an issue. He said the field is used about 112 hours per season and there is very little time for the grass to recover if it is damaged. Krier said a turf field would withstand 3,000 hours of use before maintenance is required. He said a turf field can generate income for the district by renting it to tournaments and the district can host band competi- tions. A turf field is also safer for physical education classes, and such a field is “green,” because it is made from recycled material and can save up to one million gallons of water per year since it doesn’t need to be watered.

Superintendent Jay Gault encouraged boosters to reach their goal, adding that other area districts have succeeded. “It obviously has been done before and I think it is great that they are motivated enough to try something of this magnitude,” he said. “It would be great for our students and community.”

“It’s all about getting more kids involved in the use of the field,” said Krier Wednesday. And, “It shows a certain level of pride in your school.”

Krier said 30 to 40 people met with the new Stadium Renovation Committee Tuesday night, full of ideas of how to raise $660,000. The committee meets again Monday night, 6:30 p.m.

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