No more muddy football games, practice sessions that can begin a month earlier and end a month later and lower maintenance costs are among the advantages of an artificial turf field. That's what about 30 attendees were told about at a public hearing Tuesday night on a proposed $3.9 million upgrade to Van Detta Stadium and the field.
The upgrade would also bring showers into federal Title IX compliance and disability access to the stands into compliance with the American with Disabilities Act. It would also add 75 adjacent parking spots.
The financial impact of the project, some of which would be covered by state aid, would mean the district would need to collect about $110,000 in annual taxes from district residents over 15 years.
Superintended Margaret Puzio acknowledges that in a slow economic time a proposal like this might be counterintuitive. But the time is right, she said, because the recession means the district is likely to attract lower bids from contractors.
"It's important for the public to understand that this may be the last opportunity to do a project of this scope funded at this level," Puzio said near the end of the public hearing.
Afterwards, Puzio said she thought it was important to at least present the option to the public.
"I told the board, morally this is the right thing to do -- to let the public know this is available and let them decide," Puzio said.
The local share -- the amount local taxpayers will pay for directly -- is $1.6 million. The district already has more than $500,000 in its capital improvement fund, which leaves a little over a million to raise locally.
That would mean a tax increase of $6.41 annually to the tax bill of a property assessed at $75,000.
Revenue to pay the balance of the $3.9 million project cost is expected to come from state aid.
The public vote on the proposal is March 29.
Besides converting the playing surface to artificial turf -- which would greatly multiple the number of events and practices the field could be used for annually -- the proposed project also renovates and expands the press box. It adds coaches offices adjacent to the locker rooms and creates separate shower facilities for boys and girls.
The current showers can't even be used because they don't comply with requirements of Title IX.
There would also be a new concession stand area that would include public restrooms.
A 75-space parking lot would be constructed on a current playing field off Union Street (near the center, top left of the picture above).