DeWitt: J-D says no to turf field

While artificial turf fields become increasingly popular in area school districts, the Jamesville-DeWitt Board of Education gave the idea a "thumbs down" for its own high school. The board discussed the issue at its Jan. 28 meeting and rejected the concept for various reasons with cost and longevity among them.

"One of our concerns was the end of life of this investment," said BOE President Tom Taylor. "This is a generation three turf that everyone keeps talking about. That means there's generation one and two that have been technically superseded by something better that are in applications that people are still using and paying for."

Taylor was told the average life span of an artificial turf field is estimated between 10 and 12 years, "But no one has any experience with that because this product has only been around for a year or two," he said.

The board raised another concern pertaining to state aid when it comes time to replace the field. Taylor said the school would most likely get 50 percent financial backing from the state to install the initial field, but there is uncertainty at this time as to whether the state will provide aid for replacement turf.

"And that's where Liverpool's at," Taylor said.

Liverpool High School's artificial turf field was installed in 1999 and has not met its expected 10-year duration. It was closed in December due to unsafe conditions because of problems from the ground underneath the field.

While Liverpool has set money aside in a turf replacement reserve account, it only covers about a quarter of the cost it would take to replace the turf, from what Taylor has researched.

He said while supporters talk about renting the stadium out to others, it's unlikely the rent fees will cover the cost of the replacement -- the lowest estimate he's seen is about $400,000. In nine years, Liverpool raised just over $100,000 from outside group rentals. Now, the district is seeking financial help from its residents.

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