If everything continues to go according to plan, Jonathan Alder High School athletes will soon have a new turf surface to play on at the school’s Volunteer Field.
A community committee has been working the past few years with the district’s board of education to replace the grass with turf.
“Joel Maynard and I threw out this idea five or six years ago,” said committee member and former Pioneer athlete Rayce Robinson. “We saw that the field was in bad shape at the end of the football season, so we approached the superintendent and said we’d like to start a campaign to begin a turf project.
“We started to do a lot of research on things like the cost and effort of the project.”
The research began on a rather quiet note while the district was going through the process of getting a levy passed by voters.
The committee approached the board of education in 2015 and said it would like to begin the campaign.
Robinson said the committee set a goal of raising $550,000 to place turf at the stadium.
The group did so, not wanting any taxpayer dollars involved with the project.
They are right on target with that philosophy.
“This project is 100 percent privately-funded,” said Robinson. “We’ve had a lot of donors, including individuals, families and business companies.
“There are no school funds going into the turf project.”
As of late last week, Robinson said that $518,000 had been raised, with additional commitments yet to be finalized.
He feels the committee, which will funnel the money through the Jonathan Alder Athletic Boosters (a 501 3C non-profit organization), will have the necessary funds raised in order to begin the project in a handful of months.
“June 1 is our target date to start digging, pending the final approval by the board of education,” he said. “It will take approximately eight weeks to complete, depending on the weather.”
If all systems are go and Mother Nature cooperates, the project should be completed by early August.
That would be plenty of time for Pioneer football and boys and girls soccer teams to play on the new surface during the 2019 fall season.
The school’s lacrosse program would be able to use the turf field in the spring of 2020.
Robinson said there would be new drainage put into the field, plus bottom layers of stone and sand before the actual “carpet” is put in place.
Robinson said the committee looked into many factors before deciding to pursue a turf field, including safety.
“It will be checked once a year for safety purposes and it will also be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis,” he said.
A turf field generally comes with an eight-year warranty.
The lifespan could extend well beyond that as long as safety tests are successful.
“We should be able to get anywhere from 10 to 13 years of useage from the field,” said Robinson.
After that time expires, Robinson said it will cost about half the original price tag to replace it, as long as no defects are found in the sub-base.
Robinson also said an artificial turf field will save the district approximately $20,000 each year in what it would cost to maintain the grass field with re-seeding and water usage.
Money raised from the use of the field by various groups would help with the turf’s maintenance and eventual replacement costs.
“The school could rent the field out for various youth sports groups, concerts and other activities such as playoff football and soccer games,” said Robinson. “The potential assets of this project would generate revenue that would be needed for future expenses.
“The Plain City area is experiencing a lot of growth,” he said. “As we change, we need and deserve different assets.
“We want to give this to our current student-athletes and continue to make it better for those in the future.”
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