2011-02-24 / Schools

Artificial turf coming to Oak Park High School’s football field

By Stephanie Bertholdo

Oak Park High School’s football field will soon be covered with artificial turf due to a joint agreement between the school’s athletic boosters and a West Valley soccer league.

The Oak Park Unified School District Board of Education voted 5-0 to allow Real So Cal/West Valley Soccer League to cover the field in artificial turf. In return, the soccer league gets to use the field for its weekend matches.

The initial $735,000 cost of the project, including materials and intallation, will be paid for by the Real So Cal group.

Assistant Principal Stewart McGugan said he visited several schools to compare the quality of artificial turf and found Real So Cal’s proposed product to be superior.

The material selected to replace the grass field School and many profession al stadiums across the country.

The new field will include an eight-year warranty. The 20-year contract between the league and the district includes stipulations for splitting costs for new material and maintenance fees after 10 years.

A reduction in school water bills was another reason to consider artificial turf, McGugan said. The current monthly water bill at the school is about $3,700, much of it used on the sports fields. Maintenance costs will be reduced as well, McGugan said.

Superintendent Tony Knight said the water savings alone made the contract a “great opportunity.”

The district spent $14,000 in 2009 to resod both fields, McGugan said. Fields are resodded about once every 10 years.

According to Oak Park Principal Kevin Buchanan, the cost to resod the upper and lower fields and update the irrigation system would cost $340,000 over 20 years. The cost for the artificial turf will be $200,000 in the same time period, but that cost is for the football field only.

McGugan said the league will also pay for installation of a new surface at the school’s high jump and shot put areas.

School board member Mary Pallant asked if the turf material was subject to mold and mildew. Buchanan said no, adding that the turf does require maintenance. Occasionally—mostly during the summer months—the field would require a hosing down because the material gets hot. A grooming machine, which is included in the deal, will be used to periodically sweep and “fluff” the field.

Board President Barbara Laifman asked about safety and liability if a person were to be injured on the field. McGugan said there was more chance of injury with a grass field; rubber-based lawns cushion the impact of falls.

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