Decision-makers approved purchase of a FieldTurf product either this spring or summer

The Canby Cougars are getting a new artificial turf field as soon as this spring, but definitely by this summer. Board members made the decision to replace it just days after the district announced the current turf had been deemed unusable.

The school district's insurer inspected the field on Feb. 28 and determined the 9-year-old turf is not acceptable for athletic competition, the district announced in a press release on Friday, March 1.

COURTESY PHOTO: CSD - An example of the worn turf.

This impacts P.E. classes to an extent, track and field, club lacrosse, youth soccer and public use of the track, since the entire area must be closed off outside of supervised activities, according to Athletic Director Ben Winegar. Winegar did note that certain supervised activities are still allowed in the area, such as baseball teams being allowed to throw the baseball across the field.

At their recent meeting, board members seemed prepared to vote to replace the turf, but discussed whether it would be best to begin the project as soon as possible or wait until after graduation. A representative from FieldTurf loosely estimated the field could be ready by the beginning of May if the process began immediately, but certain aspects of the installation are dependent on weather, so that date could be subject to change.

Starting the project now means that two track meets scheduled in Canby would need to be moved to new locations, Winegar said. If the project were delayed, Canby could still hold the meets by moving the discus event to nearby grass.

Ultimately, the board voted unanimously to replace the turf with a FieldTurf product called XT Prestige and to leave the start date decision to Superintendent Trip Goodall, high school Principal Greg Dinse and Winegar.

However, two board members strongly suggested waiting until summer.

COURTESY PHOTO: CSD - Canby's current synthetic turf is ripping at the seams."I would be more comfortable with the later install, rather than trying to squeeze it in," said board member Diane Downs. "And my preference as a board member for the school district is to hold our school time sacred above worrying about—I believe in the importance of co-curricular activities, but I have a real strong recommendation that we be very careful about disrupting our school time."

Replacing the field is not as costly as the initial project, and is estimated to come to $373,100 plus additional costs to improve draingage and for maintenance materials, according to Winegar. The district has almost $300,000 available in a turf replacement fund and more than $136,000 from construction excise tax. If there is a remaining balance, it could be paid through the district's contingency funds or through a small loan, according to Denise Lapp, the district's director of finance.

The now unusable turf field was originally purchased in 2010 with $900,000 in cash donations, long-term pledges and in-kind donations from the Booster Club and other supporters, documents show. Approximately $525,000 of those funds were used to build the underground infrastructure and the remaining was used to install the synthetic surface.

The turf surface was estimated to last 10-12 years, district documents show, but fell short, lasting under 9 years.

The district recognized in 2016 that the field was nearing the end of its lifespan, per the press release, and in February, the district asked for a review of the current condition.

COURTESY PHOTO: CSD - A vertical turf tear.According to the district, Pacific Sports Turf, of Tualatin, conducted the review on Feb. 7 and found: 1) that the fibers at the seams at midfield are worn to the point they can longer hold the rubber under the field in place, 2) an abnormal amount of repairs had been made (about 200), 3) 25 more repairs are needed, 4) lines sewn into the turf have separated from the field and are worn to the point of no repair, plus more.

"After my inspection and observation of the stadium synthetic sports field at Canby High School, it is my opinion that this field is at the end of its life cycle and past the point of repair and/or mediation," said TJay Wirth, of Pacific Sports Turf, in his conclusion to the turf assessment.

"I feel that this field is unsafe, and needs replaced," Wirth added.

Board Chair Rob Sheveland asked about the potential to repair the field to get through spring, but Wirth and Goodall suggested that wouldn't be wise. Wirth said the maintenance team can't keep up with the tearing.

"That to me says, if I'm a player and I'm out there running, everything could look fine, but I could be the one that kicks up that seam…and I just think the field that's in place right now, it's not reparable," Goodall said. "Following the analysis, we had our insurance people come out, and they just said, after looking at the report and walking on the field with Ben, it's like, there's no way you can put a team on this field. It's just reached its max."

The new field is estimated to last 10-14 years with proper maintenance, depending on extent of use, the FieldTurf representative said. At the time of press, Goodall, Dinse and Winegar had not reached a decision on the project start date.

This story has been updated with a current cost estimate provided by Ben Winegar.

Kristen Wohlers
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