Artificial turf among field upgrades on the table

School Board to consider improvements to baseball, softball facilities not included in referendum
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Grafton School Board will consider several options for improving its baseball and softball fields that could include artificial turf at its next board meeting on June 25. 

“We want to make sure we have a good master plan in place for our athletic fields, and the baseball and softball varsity fields are the linchpin for that,” School District Supt. Jeff Nelson said. “The board wants to make sure that we’re making the best long-term decision for our district.”

The two varsity fields are at John Long Middle School and the two junior varsity fields are at Grafton High School.

After the district’s 2016 referendum failed, athletic projects were taken out of consideration for the successful $39.9 school facilities referendum.

“We knew those needs during the referendum, but through our community listening sessions we learned we needed to focus on academics and we had to find a different way to fund the athletic fields,” Nelson said.

At the School Board meeting, officials from Rettler Corp. — the firm assisting the district with the fields’ landscaping designs — will present three options to move the baseball and softball grounds.

According to Nelson, the first option involves the varsity baseball and softball fields coming to the high school, but he said the cost will be a factor. 

“As the cost went up, it caused us to step back and look at a more global perspective about the long-term implications of any decision that we make,” he said.

Last year, the district budgeted $800,000 from its fund balance for the athletic fields and it plans to garner donations from area businesses.

The second option places all four fields at the middle school campus, but the availability of green space could be limited.

The third and most viable plan, Nelson said, calls for improving the two varsity fields at the middle school, which could include installing in the infields. That plan is estimated to cost the district $608,190, which includes the price for turf.

“We know that turf is something we’re going to need in our long-range plan,” Nelson said. “We want to see what the potential cost savings could be for maintenance.”

He also said the School Board will consider installing turfon the high school football field within the next five years, but the district will need to find the funds through outside donors.

“We’re going to start making relationships with donors in order to fund that,” he said.

Currently, improvements are being made to the high school’s soccer field, which is being paid with $400,000 from fund balance. Nelson said the board will also consider adding bathrooms near the soccer field. 

Nelson said the School Board would most likely make its final decision during its July meeting, after members have time to digest the material presented to them by Rettler.  

“There will be a lot of information presented at the meeting and we want to hear some feedback from the community,” he said. “We want to make sure we are making a sound decision and that we can secure funding from outside donors and businesses.”

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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