GREENFIELD — It’s not moving at the speed of an all-pro running back, but Greenfield-Central’s artificial turf project is nonetheless headed toward the goal line.

That’s the consensus among administrators who have been working on the issue for nearly a year.

“We have really targeted (the fall of) 2016 as having it ready, rather than 2015,” said Greenfield-Central High School associate assistant principal Dave Beal, a member of the athletics facilities improvement committee appointed by the school board last spring.

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Beal and fellow committee members provided the school board with an update of their progress last week. Since they began meeting several months ago, the committee has concluded that the current natural grass field at the high school football stadium, without a major upgrade since it was installed more than 40 years ago, is badly in need of work. And, in part because of the multiple uses an artificial surface can provide, the group believes synthetic turf is the solution.

In meeting with turf installation companies, as well as officials from other schools who have synthetic surfaces, Greenfield-Central superintendent and committee member Harold Olin estimated a total cost somewhere in the range of $750,000. Formal bids have not been solicited.

“After spending some time with five or six vendors, we had a good understanding of cost,” Olin told the school board.

Previously, the board informed the committee that little to no funds outside of the usual, annual athletics budget would be available for the project. Toward that end, the group has been busy soliciting donations. Prepping the field — the excavation, for example — is where local companies appear willing to chip in.

“There are a lot of different things that could be done in terms of in-kind donations; people in this community have those assets,” said Beal, who is confident that approximately 30 to 40 percent of the project could be paid for in this manner. “If you can get most of the base work donated as in-kind, the base work is roughly half the cost of the entire project for a football field. So, if you can get most of the in-kind donations done there, you save a significant amount of money.”

“Then we’ll still have roughly 65 percent we’ll have to come up with … for things like the cost of the actual turf itself.”

In addition to in-kind donations, the group is also looking to local businesses for contributions in exchange for naming rights, advertising and the like.

Ray Kerkhof, a school board member as well as a member of the turf committee, said progress toward the total financial goal is being made.

“I’ve been encouraged with the amount of interest there is out there and the number of people willing to step forward and really look at it,” he said. “I think we need to just really give it the time it takes to make sure we’re really doing it right.”

“I think we need to keep moving, we need to keep pressing to get to that figure. The sooner we get there the better off we’ll be. If we wait too long it will die, but a nice job so far with everything.”

In order to have a new artificial surface ready for the start of the 2015-16 swchool year, work would have to begin no later than this May. That’s not enough time to raise the remainder of the money, or to bid the work, making the start of the 2016-17 school year more feasible, Beal noted.

“We know at the rate we’re moving right now, we’re not be able to fit into the schedule of any of those companies that would come in and do it (this spring),” he said.

May 2016 is the latest work could begin to have a new surface ready for that fall.

In the meantime, the grass field will be aerated and seeded before the coming fall season, Beal added.

The committee was instructed to provide quarterly updates to the school board, and will update the board again in May.

Daily Reporter staff writer Maribeth Vaughn contributed to this story.

Pull Quote

“I think we need to keep moving, we need to keep pressing to get to that figure. The sooner we get there the better off we’ll be. If we wait too long it will die, but a nice job so far with everything.”

Ray Kerkhof, Greenfield-Central school board member, on raising money for artificial turf