Fundraising by nonprofit group key to plan for artificial turf, track project
A foundation formed last year to benefit the Port Washington-Saukville School District is gearing up for its first fundraising campaign, and it’s an ambitious one — raising what may need to be millions of dollars to overhaul high school outdoor athletic facilities with new artificial turf football and baseball fields and an eight-lane track.
“The athletic field project is the primary focus of the foundation at this point,” Jennifer Clearwater, president of the PWSSD Education Foundation, said Tuesday.
The Foundation, which has applied to become a nonprofit organization, plans to roll out its campaign shortly after the cost of the project is determined, Clearwater, a Port Washington resident who is director of philanthropy for Discovery World in Milwaukee, said.
Point of Beginning, a Stevens Point engineering and landscape architecture firm hired by the district to design the new athletic facilities, is still working on cost estimates, Supt. Michael Weber said.
It’s clear, however, that the price tag will be significant. And without money for the project included in the $49.4 million school improvement initiative approved by voters in a 2015 referendum, which is financing the ongoing renovation and expansion of the high school, the athletic field proposal most likely hinges on the fundraising effort.
School officials have previously said that just an artificial turf football field and related improvements could cost about $1 million. The Point of Beginning plan unveiled last month goes beyond that.
The athletic fields would remain at their current site west of the high school and east of Moore Road, but the football field, currently on the south end of the site, would be moved to the north to provide room for an eight-lane track circling it. The baseball field would be moved to the south end of the property.
Both fields would have artificial turf surfaces, although the baseball field turf could be limited to the infield to save money.
Synthetic turf provides a better, safer playing surface, particularly in wet weather, and, because it is more durable than grass, would reduce maintenance costs and increase opportunities for additional use by, for instance, gym classes, officials have said.
New home-team bleachers would have a seating capacity of 1,500 and be cut into the hill. Fans would be able to walk from the north end of the high school down into the stands at the base of the school hill.
On the other side of the field, bleachers for visiting fans would have a capacity of 1,000.
Clearwater said she envisions a fundraising campaign that solicits both modest donations and major gifts from donors who may be interested in naming rights.
One of the foundation’s first priorities, she said, will be to discuss project funding with a potential donor who approached the district some time ago. The prospective donor, who school officials have declined to identify, inspired the creation of the PWSSD Foundation because it, unlike the district, will be able to offer tax advantages for contributors who write off charitable contributions.
Although the district is not in a position to tap its budget for the project, it could contribute some or all of the proceeds from the anticipated sale of 54.5 acres on Port Washington’s west side. Proceeds from the sale of the land, which the district purchased in 1969 as a future school site but no longer needs, must be used for capital improvement projects.