Archive for Monday, February 16, 2009

School district’s athletic fields getting in shape

February 16, 2009


Athletic field work continues in spite of budget cuts

While the school district waits for budget cuts from the state, improvements to the athletic fields can move ahead unaffected. Enlarge video

The Free State High School Firebird is in place on the school’s newly turfed football field, and work on other athletic venues continues to progress in the Lawrence school district.

“It’s been an extremely aggressive schedule,” said Tom Bracciano, the division director of operations and facility planning for the district.

Free State and Lawrence high schools are both getting artificial turf soccer, football, softball and baseball fields. Lawrence High School will also get more parking and new tennis courts. If everything — including lights, bleachers and the parking — is done by the Aug. 15 deadline, the project will have been done in less than a year.

At Free State, existing fields are being renovated with the new turf, while much of the work at LHS involves building new facilities. Free State’s soccer team can use the school’s football field until its own pitch is completed.

“I think we’re in excellent shape,” said Bracciano. “It’s going to be a real tough push to get the baseball field here at Free State done by March 1. Football fields at both schools are right on target and soccer, the tennis courts, everything else is pretty well on track.”

The potential budget cuts from the state do not affect the capital outlay fund, which is paying for the new athletic fields.

“It’s also hard to explain to people that you could have capital projects going on ... in the case now, where we’re putting turf on some fields, that they are unaffected by these cuts because it’s two pools of money,” said Superintendent Randy Weseman. “There are actually two kinds of money in our business — the capital money and the general fund money.”

Bracciano says the project is fiscally responsible because ultimately the fields will save general fund money that would normally go to maintenance and utilities that were spent on grass fields.

“We’re hoping to relieve the pressure on the general fund, so really, for us, it works out real well to have these projects come along at this time,” he said. “These are being paid for with capital outlay dollars, which we can’t use for salaries or operational costs.”

Bracciano also notes the environmentally friendly aspect of going to turf.

“It’s (the turf) got the soy-based backing on it,” he said. “The biggest thing in my mind, too, is no pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer.”

A package for lights should be presented to the board at its next meeting, Feb. 23. Bracciano says the district is also bidding out the bleachers for the fields.

At Free State, work is being done on leveling the baseball field and putting drainage in the soccer field. The softball field will not be touched until the season in over in May.

Lawrence High is getting ready to get turf on its football field and to relevel the softball field. Most of the underground retention for stormwater drainage is in place under the tennis courts at the Lawrence Virtual School site.

“We’ve had some excellent people to work with and it’s just come out beautiful,” said Bracciano.


honestone 9 years, 2 months ago

I think most people understand the concept of "two different pots of money" but when the general public sees millions being spent on school recreation and then the board comes to us for more money for education...we feel kind of...screwed

shepdog 9 years, 2 months ago


rusty2 9 years, 2 months ago

yes honestone - and in this case only about $2.8 million was really 'leftover' from the 2005 bond issue.

the remainder of the 'about $14.4million' is borrowed under a clause for 'performance contracting'.

someone really really really lies (oops typo) likes artificial turf.

rusty2 9 years, 2 months ago

oops LJW 'left out' that the bulk of this was not from

capital outlays but rather from a legislative loophole called 'performance contracting' big enough to drive about $4.4 million in artificial turf through on a 10 year loan with no vote by the public.

bearded_gnome 9 years, 2 months ago

the turf is the greenie wheenie kind made with soy? zowie. is it as safe as other turf, will it last as long?

I do understand how these improvements will cut some general funds expenditures, makes sense to me.

gee, rusty2/cool/ariadne/spiderman/coltrane/sven erik alstrom hasn't mentioned that lawsuit he settled, signed without good faith.

hasn't mentioned agitating the University Park NA. hmmmmmmm. wonder why.

Shelley Bock 9 years, 2 months ago

Here's my understanding of why the football fields first:

  1. These are the largest and most complex of the structures. There will ultimately be seating for 4,000 at both venues. Starting with the stadiums that will have the most extensive facility construction first seems best.

  2. The girl soccer teams will be using the facility this spring. The Free State field has soccer markings in place. Soccer facilities will come later. They'll be in use soon. Free State's first game is on March 27 versus Lansing. LHS' first game is on April 7 versus Free State.

  3. In a pinch, baseball has an alternative field to use while the fields are getting prepared. Soccer has YSI, but those fields are part of the reason why this construction became a necessity for safety.

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