On The Fence

Bobby Leach "The Rooster" | 1/27/2016, 5:34 p.m.
If you attend either Plainfield South or Plainfield Central High School this fall you will notice a big change at ...
Bobby Leach

If you attend either Plainfield South or Plainfield Central High School this fall you will notice a big change at the football field, a new turf field. Artificial turf will be installed at District 202’s four high school physical education athletic stadiums in what will be the first significant capital project in almost a decade for the 202 school district. Plainfield North and Plainfield East will also see new fields in 2017.

The project will occur in two phases over the next two years and will maximize facility usage in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The project is estimated to cost about $6.5 million. The final cost won’t be known though until the project is actually bid in February 2016. Tax exempt working cash bonds will be sold to finance the capital project work. The impact on the overall tax rate should be nominal following future re-financing of bonds.

The artificial turf will let the four high schools use their stadium fields much more often than for just a few football games each fall, because the district won’t have to worry about damaging the fields prior to or during those games, said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lane Abrell. “This is an investment in all of our students and schools because at some point, every student will use these fields as part of a curricular or extracurricular purpose, including graduation,” Abrell said.

The Park District and private community athletic organizations will also be able to use the football fields depending on their availability, he said. Installing artificial turf will also significantly reduce maintenance costs for the fields. The turf is expected to cut maintenance costs by at least $200,000 a year when all four fields are in place. “This work could have been done years ago but our finances during our heavy growth period and then during the recession wouldn’t allow for it,” Abrell said.

“Many of our neighbors already have artificial turf and have benefitted from it financially and operationally,” he said, pointing to Naperville, Valley View, Joliet, Downers Grove, Wheaton, Lincoln-Way and West Aurora, which all have multi-use artificial turf fields.

“This is the right thing to do for our schools, our taxpayers and our community,” Abrell said. I personally applaud the decision and agree that these improvements save money and more importantly offer the safest possible surface in which to compete on. I am looking forward to what designs they come up with at the first two schools this fall.