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Progress made toward G-C field upgrade

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GREENFIELD – A complete redo of the football field at Greenfield-Central High School – by either artificial or natural means – moved closer to fruition Tuesday.

A committee appointed by the Greenfield-Central School Corporation Board met for the second time to discuss improving the Cougars’ gridiron, which hasn’t undergone renovation in decades, according to retiring G-C athletic director Kevin Horrigan.

The group, which will give a progress report to the school board July 14, is exploring two options: a new artificial turf surface or a natural grass overhaul. The latter would include excavation of the current grass surface, new dirt, laser leveling, crowning and modern drainage and irrigation.

Horrigan said he asked several companies for an estimate and received one in-writing quote from J&D Turf in Fishers: $50-55 thousand for a natural redo using grass seed and $70-75 thousand with sod.

A representative from J&D Turf recently toured the G-C playing surface.

“He hadn’t been on it three minutes and said, ‘This field needs a lot of work,’” Horrigan told the rest of the committee Tuesday. “He said we probably have at least 14 different kinds of grass on there.”

Standing water, dips and valleys in the field and dead spots are among ongoing issues with the current playing surface.

As a whole, the committee agreed that the field problems need to be corrected.

“Beyond the cursory maintenance, not a lot of money has been put into the field for the last 40 years,” Horrigan said. “Something has to be done. What that is will ultimately be up to the board.”

The other possible “something” is a new turf field, which was discussed at length during the committee’s first public meeting, June 10, and again Tuesday.

Incoming athletic director Jared Manning reported Tuesday that he and Horrigan did a survey of 54 Central Indiana high schools. Of the 23 high schools that compete in Class 5A or 6A football, all have artificial turf fields. G-C is among the larger schools currently in Class 4A football. Of 15 area 4A programs, six have artificial turf and nine play on natural grass.

“As you move up in size, turf becomes more prominent,” Manning said.

Local 4A schools with field turf include Chatard, Danville, Greenwood, Mooresville, Plainfield and Roncalli.

“We’ve played on the Greenwood turf, and it’s absolutely perfect,” said Manning, the former G-C soccer coach, speaking of a past soccer match.

Many schools use their turf fields for multiple purposes, which is one of the benefits, the committee agreed.

Although there has been no discussion of moving G-C soccer team matches permanently to a new turf field at the football stadium, some matches or practices could be moved when rain makes the soccer field unplayable.

Other G-C sports could also use the football artificial turf for practice nearly year-round. Physical education classes and the G-C band would also benefit greatly from an artificial turf, the committee agreed.

Currently, use of the football field is restricted to prevent further damage. An artificial turf field would withstand repetitive use better than a renovated natural grass field, Horrigan said.

Committee members on hand Tuesday were Horrigan, Manning, chairman Dave Beal (G-C associate principal), Ray Kerkhof (school board member) and Tony Zurwell (corporation business manager).

Costs for an artificial turf field begin in the $350,000 range and go up to $1 million-plus.

Sources of funding for possible G-C artificial turf discussed so far include Capital Projects Fund monies already designated for athletics, in-kind donations, fundraising and sponsorships.

Bonds and raising taxes are funding options the committee has steered clear of.

The committee plans to meet again Aug. 5, when it will invite multiple artificial turf companies to make presentations. The committee hopes to acquire details such as maintenance, lifespan of the product, total cost and possible payment plans. It was unclear Tuesday if the committee would also invite a natural grass renovation company.

The meeting will be open to the public, either at the G-C administration center at 110 W. North St., or at the high school, depending on the amount of space needed for the presentations. A public notice will be issued later.

The July 14 school board meeting is also open to the public.

Beal noted that the corporation has done a commendable job over the last 10 years or so of taking care of other athletic needs, such as new press boxes and lights at the soccer and softball fields.

“The one thing we’ve done, and Tony has been a big part of it (as a financing expert), is we’ve really taken care of the ‘above-ground’ pieces that we needed to take care of,” Beal said. “But over the course of that, because that’s been sort of our emphasis in trying to get them upgraded, it has taken away money from maintaining our fields at a level that we need to be at.

“Now, that neglect is kind of coming to the forefront. At some point here in the near future, we need to have a remedy for that.”

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