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The 'wonderful property' will feature a new field, potentially other renovations in the future.

COURTESY RENDERING: NSD - The Newberg School and Chehalem Park and Recreation districts are going to replace Renne Field's grass infield with a multi-purpose artificial turf surface.

Newberg School District's Renne Field is slowly getting a makeover.

The property has served countless purposes throughout the decades, from housing a middle school to Newberg High School's football stadium -- but it is currently underutilized.

"(We've considered renovating Renne) for quite a period of time," Julie Peterson, Chehalem Park and Recreation District's recreation supervisor, said.

Deeming it a "a wonderful piece of property," she described Renne Field as large, spacious and flat with parking availability and plenty of trees to provide shade.

"It would be a great area, we think, for kids and families to recreate," Peterson said.

Located near the school district offices and Edwards Elementary, Renne Field now hosts youth soccer and NHS rugby on its grass field and a youth baseball program on its two diamonds.

Conscious of the grass field's limitations, the school district and CPRD have teamed up to replace it with a multi-purpose artificial turf field, with the potential for more renovations in the future.

To help fund the field, state representatives gifted a $750,000 grant CPRD has committed to matching, which brings the total allotment to $1.5 million or more.

"We're kind of talking through all the possibilities and there may not be money right now to do all the things we'd like to do, but at least getting a start," Larry Hampton, the school district's operations and safety coordinator, said.

If funds permit, the school district and CPRD are also considering replacing the complex's old, weed-infested cinder track with a new eight-lane track.

"The middle school track program is always struggling for space," Hampton said. "They use the high school facility but have to wait until high school practices are over. It just makes it harder for those programs to have space to do their thing."

In the future, the two taxing districts hope to build restrooms, concession stands, bleachers and more storage space for sports equipment.

With what funds it does have, Hampton predicted the school district won't be able to accomplish all their renovation goals. Beyond the new field, they might be able to get started on the track, but mostly likely not finish it immediately.

"A lot of it depends on what kind of pricing numbers we get for all the work that's involved in just doing the artificial turf," Hampton said.

At the very least, however, Newberg will finally have another artificial turf field. NHS and George Fox University boast the only other artificial turf fields in town and the surfaces offer many benefits. One of them is its resiliency against weather.

"The climate in Oregon -- it's very difficult," Peterson said. "You have multiple teams playing on that (grass) field daily and so the wear and tear on those fields is immense. The fields are so bad right now. This is why we need (artificial) turf."

When it rains, artificial turf dries quickly compared to grass.

"You don't have to cancel practices, you don't have to cancel games" due to bad weather, Peterson said. "And they last a long time, too. You don't have the puddling and drainage issues that you have with a typical grass field."

Maintaining grass is also expensive and tedious, requiring regular irrigation and mowing.

"If we had (artificial) turf, it would save us that time and money," she said.

Additionally, Newberg does not have a field reserved for soccer, which forces youth soccer players to play games in the outfield of the Renne Field softball diamond.

"It would be a great advantage to have a field dedicated to soccer but that also is a multi-purpose field that any sport can use," Peterson said, adding that similar-sized communities are installing artificial turf fields as well.

Hampton said that, realistically, the field would probably be finished by next summer.

"This is something that we feel is important for kids," Peterson said. "We want to see them outside and playing and this just gives us the ability to get more kids out on the field, even when the weather isn't great."

Hampton noted that he is considering the impact of the artificial turf field on community events that take place on Renne Field, such as the Old-Fashioned Festival's fireworks display.

"If the field is turf, is that going to change any of those things?" Hampton said, adding that he and others will start problem-solving if that becomes the case. "It may limit how much we want thousands of people to be camping out on the field to watch fireworks. I don't want to say that this is automatically going to change those things, but it will have some effects, and we'll have to look at that."

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