LODI — Lodi’s school board will consider Monday whether to move forward with a $1.34 million proposal to replace the football/soccer stadium at Lodi High School with artificial turf, paid largely through fundraising efforts.
The Facility/Finance Committee voted unanimously July 31 to recommend the board approve a contract with Stevens Point-based engineering firm Point of Beginning to continue working on the project for a maximum planning cost of $20,000.
District Administrator Charles Pursell said the project is part of the district’s long-range facility plan and is a priority due to safety issues posed by the current field.
With two years of particularly wet fall seasons, Pursell said the field has gotten torn up each time a football game happens during a rain or soon after.
“It creates just a very bad situation for the grass, which doesn’t get a chance to recover” because other sports use the field a few days later, Pursell said.
Soccer games and last year’s homecoming game had to be moved to other locations due to the damage.
“Basically (it’s) for the safety of the kids,” Pursell said. “The field was not safe because of the condition that it was in, either because of the dried, hard ruts that were left behind or just because of the fact that it was so slick and so wet and there was no grass.”
The district has contacted other schools nearby to ask if they have athletic fields Lodi could use this fall in the event of bad weather, he said.
District leaders analyzed the situation, which has been ongoing for several years, and came up with a turf management plan. Pursell said to resolve the issues, the district would have to remove the existing topsoil and the thick layer of clay beneath it, install a drainage system, add a layer of “more coarse material,” top it with a mixture of topsoil and sand and then reseed the field. The work would cost an estimated $800,000 and leave the field unusable for about two years.
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Replacing the entire field with a synthetic turf would cost about $1.34 million, but the reduced maintenance, less watering and savings on annual costs would make that option the most economical in the long term, Pursell said. And the work potentially could be done over one summer and be ready for fall sports.
“So, that’s kind of where we’re looking at it, from the standpoint of long-term benefit as well as practicality of costs,” Pursell said.
The firm already completed an analysis of the field and its soil conditions and compared the costs for the two options. A group of parents, community members, youth, coaches and school administrators reviewed the information and recommended the district start a capital fundraising effort, according to the Monday board meeting agenda.
Pursell said the group aims to raise $800,000 for the project to prevent it from becoming a tax issue. If the fundraising effort were successful, he said the school board would have to consider whether to use the district’s capital improvement funds to cover the remaining $500,000 — a move that would not impact any educational programs or school operations.
Point of Beginning’s high school stadium proposal included an entryway and plaza for a total project cost of $1.58 million.
In addition to the high school project, the firm worked with Lodi’s coaches and administrators to lay out a design for new baseball, softball and soccer fields at the new Lodi Primary School. That proposal came as part of regular long-term planning in which the district looked at all of its co-curricular needs, Pursell said, including the fact that there’s “never have enough green space for all of our different teams.”
Pursell said any potential new fields there — estimated to cost about $4.34 million — would be separate from the high school stadium project and likely would be years down the road.
“It may come up as part of that next round of referendum discussion, but it’s certainly not something that’s going to be in the next one or two years, for sure,” Pursell said.