Athletic complex campaign kicked off

PWSSD Foundation Inc. launches effort to raise $7.8 million for new Port High fields and track as well as access road and bleachers to improve accessibility

A RENDERING CREATED by Point of Beginning, a Stevens Point landscape architecture firm hired to design new Port Washington High School athletic facilities, shows an artificial turf football field in the location of the present field surrounded by a wider, eight-lane running track. New home bleachers topped by a press box can be seen on the east (right) side of the field below the school. Artificial turf baseball, softball and practice fields would replace the current ball diamonds at the north end of the complex. In between the two fields would be space for track and field events and a new concession stand and bathrooms.
Ozaukee Press staff

A recently formed nonprofit foundation officially launched its campaign last week to raise $7.8 million to pay for a sweeping overhaul of Port Washington High School’s outdoor athletic facilities.

The first part of the project being spearheaded by the PWSSD Foundation Inc. in cooperation with the Port Washington-Saukville School District is estimated to cost $5.6 million and would include the installation of an artificial turf football field, an eight-lane running track to replace the current six-lane track and an access road running along the west side of the fields and new home-team bleachers that would make the complex accessible to people with disabilities. 

A new concession stand and bathrooms, as well as a plaza on the hill along the east side of the field for pre-game functions, is also planned.

What is begin referred to as project B, estimated to cost $2.2 million, would include artificial turf baseball, softball and practice fields to the north of the football field and new lighting, dugouts, a backstop, bullpen and scoreboard. The baseball fields would also be accessible to people with disabilities.

The foundation has divided the athletic facility overhaul into two parts so they can be done in phases if additional time is needed to raise money for the baseball field improvements.

“We and the district vetted a number of plans and we believe this is the right plan,” Sheri Bunyan, a member of the PWSSD Foundation board, said of the designs drafted by Point of Beginning, a Stevens Point landscape architecture firm that specializes in school athletic facilities.

The foundation, which hosted a presentation in a new Port Washington High School classroom overlooking the athletic facilities last week to kick off its campaign, was formed last year to raise money for district projects, primarily large ones the district cannot afford without a referendum.

Although the long-term goal of the foundation, which as a non-profit organization offers tax benefits for donors, is to fund projects throughout the district and stave off or eliminate the need for another referendum, its focus for now is solely on the athletic field project, said Jennifer Clearwater, president of the foundation and a professional fundraiser. She is director of philanthropy for Discovery World in Milwaukee.

The athletic fields project is seen as a complement — one that would be funded by donations instead of tax dollars — to the ongoing $45.6 million high school building project included in the $49.4 million referendum approved by voters in April 2015.

A survey conducted early in the referendum planning process suggested tepid support for outdoor athletic facility funding, so those improvements were not included in the final referendum plan.

But, according to PWSSD Foundation Vice President Tom Ross, that’s not to say the athletic facility improvements aren’t needed.

Because the current track is only six lanes wide, he noted, Port High cannot host track and field events. The proposed eight-lane track would allow the school to compete at home.

The installation of artificial turf fields, which several schools in the North Shore Conference have or are planning to install, is seen as a way to make the fields available for a wider variety of activities, decrease maintenance costs and the use of water and fertilizer and provide a safer playing surface for athletes.

The football field, for instance, is used for little else other than football games to protect the grass. With durable artificial turf that is essentially impervious to rain, the football and baseball fields could be used for a variety of sports and pyh-ed classes and would be available for community events and activities, school officials said.

Artificial turf baseball fields, officials noted, would be particularly beneficial next year when the WIAA switches the baseball season from summer to spring and games played on grass fields could be rained out.

Key to the plan, Ross said, is the accessibility the road running along the west side of the fields and new bleachers would provide for older people and those with disabilities.

The plan keeps the athletic fields and track in their current orientation, with the football field to the south and baseball fields to the north, although the concession stand and bathrooms would be moved slightly north to better serve both fields. An earlier plan, which proposed swapping the football and baseball fields to accommodate a larger track, was not well received by Port High alumni and fans and quickly dropped from consideration.




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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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