Artificial turf will be installed at District 202’s four high school physical education/athletic stadiums in what will be the first significant capital project in almost a decade.
The project will occur in two phases over the next two years and will maximize facility usage in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The Board of Education approved the plan at a special meeting held on December 21, 2015.
The fields at Plainfield High School – Central Campus and Plainfield South High School – the two oldest fields – will be replaced this coming summer. Work will start immediately after graduation in May 2016 and the target for completion is mid-September 2016.
The two newest fields -- Plainfield East and North high schools -- will be replaced in summer 2017 with targeted completion by mid-September 2017.
The project is estimated to cost about $6.5 million. The final cost won’t be known though until the project is actually bid in February 2016.
Tax exempt working cash bonds will be sold to finance the capital project work. The impact on the overall tax rate should be nominal following future re-financing of bonds.
The tax exempt status of these bonds require that they be used for capital projects. The proceeds from the tax exempt portion of the sale of the working cash bonds may not be used for general education or operational expenses including salaries or benefits.
The artificial turf will let the four high schools use their stadium fields much more often than for just a few football games each fall, because the district won’t have to worry about damaging the fields prior to or during those games, said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lane Abrell.
For example, with artificial turf, the fields can be used for regular physical education classes, marching band practice, and other sports like soccer, Abrell said.
In the spring when playing fields are wet and muddy, the boys baseball or girls softball teams may even practice on the turf fields, Abrell said.
“This is an investment in all of our students and schools because at some point, every student will use these fields as part of a curricular or extracurricular purpose, including graduation,” Abrell said.
The Park District and private community athletic organizations will also be able to use the football fields depending on their availability, he said.
Installing artificial turf will also significantly reduce maintenance costs for the fields. The turf is expected to cut maintenance costs by at least $200,000 a year when all four fields are in place.
“This work could have been done years ago but our finances during our heavy growth period and then during the recession wouldn’t allow for it,” Abrell said.
“Many of our neighbors already have artificial turf and have benefitted from it financially and operationally,” he said, pointing to Naperville, Valley View, Joliet, Downers Grove, Wheaton, Lincoln-Way and West Aurora, which all have multi-use artificial turf fields.
“This is the right thing to do for our schools, our taxpayers and our community,” Abrell said.