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Published: Wednesday, 7/16/2008

Ottawa Hills plan to plant artifical turf to wait till next year

BY ANGIE SCHMITT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

School district officials have shelved a plan to replace the natural-grass football field with artificial turf at Ottawa Hills Junior/Senior High School until next summer.

More than $500,000 had been pledged and raised for the project through donations from individuals and other sources.

However, a shortfall of about $20,000 was projected as the deadline drew near for completion before the fall sports season. All donations were not finalized and some contractual issues with the construction firm remain to be resolved, Superintendent Cathleen Heidelberg said.

"We were very close to reaching the goal," the superintendent said. "The problem was, we simply ran out of time."

School district officials hope to begin the replacement process when the 2008-09 school year ends.

District officials said the grass field has been overtaxed by heavy use. About 60 percent of the wear and tear comes from nonschool-sponsored community sports teams, Ms. Heidelberg said.

"The Grass Roots Turf Project," a fund-raising team led by athletic boosters, plans to continue its efforts. The group began soliciting donations for the renovation in May, securing pledges of $100,000 from the school district, $100,000 from the village, $10,000 from the parents-teachers organization, $30,000 from the Ottawa Hills Boosters Club, and $112,315 from an anonymous donor, among other donations, said John Day, Ottawa Hills Boosters president.

A recent replacement estimate was $521,631.

A representative of Professional Sports Field Services, LLC, of McComb, Ohio, told Ottawa Hills Board of Education members last month that costs were likely to increase if a delay occurs. The project will be reopened to bidding before construction begins, Mr. Day said.

This summer, the field will be reseeded and fertilized, Ms. Heidelberg said. The district also may approach some sports teams about using alternative venues, she said.

Contact Angie Schmitt at:

aschmitt@theblade.com

or 419-724-6104.



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