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Published: Wednesday, 5/19/2004

Ottawa Hills to spend $572K on school field improvements

BY MIKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Ottawa Hills village council intends to spend more than half a million dollars to upgrade the grounds and athletic fields at the elementary school facing Indian Road.

The work, scheduled to take three years to complete, will begin this summer and will include the installation of irrigation and drainage.

The village could spend as much as $572,000 on the work.

Original discussions included a transfer of the approximately five acres to the village from the board of education. But Mayor Kevin Gilmore said council members decided that they didn't want to take on the long-term commitment to maintain the area.

He said he is glad the project is going forward, because the grounds have been in "the horrible condition" for decades.

Because of both poor drainage, he said, the athletic fields are unusable sometimes after heavy rains.

Without irrigation, the ground hardens quickly during dry spells.

The mayor said that the community has competition when it comes to attracting new residents and having good recreational fields is an asset.

"We aren't going to have the acres of Pacesetter Park, but we can take care of what we do have,'' the mayor added.

Gary Wilson, president of the Ottawa Hills Board of Education, said the school system is pleased that the village will undertake the needed improvements.

He added once the field has irrigation and drainage, maintenance will not be a problem.

Mr. Wilson added that the schools may seek to work with the village if it is determined that some capital expenditures, such as larger lawn mowers, may be necessary.

The first part of the project will involve tearing up a blacktop area near the playground at the south end of the school this summer.

It will be replaced by a blacktop surface at the north end of the building.

Next summer, organized youth baseball and other sports will be displaced when all the grounds will be stripped, graded, and irrigation and drainage installed before new grass is planted.

Contact Mike Jones at:

mjones@theblade.com

or 419-724-6096.



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