District considers options for turf replacement

Fund raising effort is underway, and could expand

The Washougal School District has begun the process of planning for the replacement of the turf field at Washougal High School’s Fishback Stadium.

During last week’s School Board meeting, Superintendent Dawn Tarzian presented a plan in which the district would match each dollar raised in the community and invited local business leaders to do the same.

“One area the district has been trying to save for is a turf field,” she said. “At the same time, we are getting criticism for setting the money aside. If this is a priority to the community, then we need to take action on it. If it’s not a priority, then the district will continue to have a field that remains inadequate.”

Those in attendance at the meeting offered several suggestions. These included “rounding up” purchases at a local grocery store, and finding citizens who might be willing to make substantial donations or front the money to the district for a low interest rate, to be paid back over the course of the life of the new field. Several patrons in attendance signed up to help with a fund-raising effort.

Parents, coaches, staff, administrators and players were present to advocate for the field replacement.

The School Board expressed support for the plan, including the recommendation from the superintendent that the district implement a turf replacement savings plan to assure that resources exist to maintain and replace the field in the future.

“If the referees feel the field is in poor condition and a danger, they have the right to (call off) a game,” Board President Blaine Peterson said. “When the field was tested (last year) it missed standards in two out of 10 areas, near the goal line and center field.”

It is estimated that replacing the field will cost at least $400,000.

Fishback Stadium’s current turf surface has been in place for 10 years, with resources provided through the passage of the Capital Improvement Bond.

It is estimated that the field is used by seven high school sports teams annually. In addition, Washougal High School physical education classes use the field on a regular basis, along with community education and youth recreation teams.

According to Doug Bright, maintenance and operations director, the district has been performing upkeep on the field as needed to maintain a safe recreation area for students. But ultimately, the turf will need to be replaced.

Studies also have shown that replacing the turf field with a natural grass field would cost more money in the long run and would not allow the same level of use.

To learn more about the committee or to participate, contact Tarzian at 954-3001 or dawn.tarzian@washougal.k12.wa.us.

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