Turf wars ahead?

A petition showing support for installing artificial turf fields at all five high schools in Fayette County was in the lobby of McIntosh’s gym last Friday night during the McIntosh-Starr’s Mill basketball games. Photo/Michael Boylan.

High school sports supporters seek $3.2 million from School Board for synthetic turf at all 5 stadiums

A petition drive is underway to gauge community interest for installing synthetic turf at the large athletic fields at all five Fayette high schools.

Supporters are hoping to collect 5,000 signatures in a bid to have the estimated $3.2 million cost added to the next education sales tax program proposed by the school board, said organizer Sally Herman, a parent of two lacrosse players at McIntosh High.

The final decision on the matter rests with the Fayette County Board of Education, which is currently faced with a shortfall in the upcoming budget year of more than $6 million across the system.

School officials, Herman noted, are concerned that the project could rankle enough voters to doom the ESPLOST, which depends on the approval of county voters. The goal is to present the signatures to the school board at its Feb. 13 meeting.

Herman sees a variety of benefits to the fields, even for residents who don’t have children in high school athletics. The turf fields would help boost property values and keep Fayette County an attractive place for those moving to metro Atlanta, as other high schools in metro Atlanta have gone to artificial turf, Herman said.

Coweta County is also slated to add artificial turf to its three high school stadiums, also funded by an ESPLOST, she noted. Cobb, Forsyth, Fulton and Gwinnett high schools with turf fields had theirs funded by an ESPLOST, Herman said.

“It is imperative that Fayette County gets these turf fields to continue to be competitive with our neighbor to the west and our neighbors to the north,” Herman said.

The turf fields would only account for about 4 percent of the ESPLOST, with the rest going towards academics, Herman noted.

There was consideration given to raising the money privately, but that plan was set aside over concerns it wouldn’t be able to meet the $3.2 million goal, Herman said.

The chief athletic benefit of the fields will enable more practice and game time, as they drain quickly after (and during) a rainstorm when grass fields would be too muddy to play on, Herman said. Projections are for field use to increase from about 10,000 hours a year to 28,400, Herman said.

That’s a pretty significant benefit considering that at McIntosh during the rainy spring season, some JV games have not been rescheduled because there isn’t enough field time available, Herman said.

The additional field time would also be helpful for local recreation programs, she added.

While each field will cost about $600,000 to install, they will only cost about $7,000 a year to maintain, compared to $28,500 a year for a grass field, Herman said.

Broken down over 10 years, including installation, the total cost for a grass field is $480,000 and the total cost for a synthetic turf field is $670,000, she noted.

Volunteers have been around the county seeking signatures, but the effort is challenging because of the holidays and also a lack of a centralized location to approach a large number of people, Herman said.

“We are not able, obviously, to get ahold of everybody for this petition,” Herman said. “We’d love to but it’s just not possible.”

In addition to having volunteers all over the county seeking signatures for petitions, the effort also has a page on Facebook where residents are encouraged to post their comments about the concept whether they are for or against the project.

“We want to hear the naysayers too,” Herman said. “... If people can let us know what they’re thinking, that’s going to answer our questions.”

The Facebook page can be found by typing the following phrase in the search field: “Turf fields for Fayette County georgia high schools.”

Veritas
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Reading for SZh443

http://turf.uark.edu/turfhelp/archives/021109.html

http://www.redhenturf.com/pdfs/TheTruthAboutArtificialTurf.pdf

Artificial not so cost effective or safe .... Try talking to someone with experience not artificial turf salesmen
You do know Cory Jenner is on the "synthetic turf council" a sales organization for synthetic turf.

Busy Bee
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I'd be interested to hear

I'd be interested to hear from a school system that has had a synthetic turf field for at least 10 years and is approaching the age of replacement, what is their experience. How has the field affected sports injury rates, is heat an issue in the summer/early fall (especially in the south). Is the replacement cost really as low as advertised, or are there additional costs incurred such as rebuilding the base (see the bubble for the Aquatic Center).

Often the information you find on the internet is biased in one way or another - Veritas's link is to a company in the midwest that installs natural sod, so they are biased towards grass. But I suspect that a lot of so-called experts that promote artificial turf come from the industry that is trying to sell you the product. I'd want to hear from users who have lived with the product for a long time and can really identify the pros and cons.

BTW, Georgia Tech switched from synthetic turf to natural grass at Grant Field in 1995, after using a synthetic surface for 24 years.

Veritas
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Busy bee university of Arkansas

Last time I checked the University of Arkansas and the University of Missouri weren't in the natural sod business

szh443
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See the letter from the

See the letter from the McEachern Athletic Director. They've had their turf field for 8 years. Lots of great info in his letter.

ptcfins
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Cobb vs. Fayette

Mrs. Herman.. I feel your pain (and envy).. Cobb county is on top of recreation! They have multiple natatoriums too. I use to live there and miss it... this is why our population is declining..families see what they can have in other counties... until Fayette county understands this.. the decline will continue!!

Veritas
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Cobb vs Fayette

193,936,493.00 revenue Faye

929,886,097.08 revenue Cobb

Just sayin .......

ptcfins
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Veritas

I understand... and as long as we are an anti-growth county our revenues will not increase. Look at the development that is happening just over the county line....

Dondol
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ptcfins

You missed the growth spurt by about 15-20 years, back then we were the other county. But with PTC being built out and the recession we are on hold. You have to understand, as I'm sure you do, its construction that drives a county like ours so we're basically done for now. Maybe in 10 years, maybe.

mthom5436
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one or two more

Our schools are unquestionably a huge draw for people to Fayette County and they have done a lot for our property values. However, a lot of that has to do with the quality of education kids in Fayette county receive. I know our schools aren't perfect. But you know what; last year I took a Biology class at GMC. There is nothing like sitting in a room with a bunch of Fulton County raised students to make you feel like the smartest person in the world. As long as Fayette County keeps producing well educated students we will remain competitive regardless of our turf.

Ninja Guy
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I Think Dar Has About

a million bucks that is burning a hole in his pocket!

mthom5436
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Dar's secret plan

This project actually has Dar written all over it. I wouldn't be surprised if Sally Herman is just his puppet. Her arguments in favor of this thing are very similar to Dar's Ice Palace arguments. Her use of scare tactics to drive her point is very Dar. For example; “It is imperative that Fayette County gets these turf fields to continue to be competitive with our neighbor to the west and our neighbors to the north”. Also, why would she even think privately raising that kind of money was a reasonable goal in the first place. Maybe Dar, offered up his one mil.

szh443
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Actually, Dar has nothing to

Actually, Dar has nothing to do with this. This is a project I embraced due to my boys being in lacrosse and having to travel to the north side of Atlanta for the last 3 years (btw, if this goes through, my boys will probably be already out of high school). Cobb, Fulton, Forsyth, Gwinnett and now Coweta County ALL have turf fields that have been paid for by an ESPLOST. We need to stay competitive. My guess (a guess ONLY) is that most high school athletic fields WILL have turf fields. It's more cost effective, more hours can be played on it and you don't have to worry about rain or droughts.
Private Funding: I believe between the various corporations and businesses in Fayette County and a fundraising push in the community that it could have been successful...a LOT of work, but successful. Not because of any person in particular, but because it's something that will enhance schools in Fayette County.

G35 Dude
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szh443 - Not the right time
Quote:

Private Funding: I believe between the various corporations and businesses in Fayette County and a fundraising push in the community that it could have been successful...a LOT of work, but successful. Not because of any person in particular, but because it's something that will enhance schools in Fayette County.

Then with all due respect I suggest that you go to work and get that private funding. This is not the right time to be asking for taxpayer money. And I would suggest that you do your homework here because if enrollment continues to drop you may be spending money on a school that could be closed at some point down the road.

All in all don't you think the idea of 2 nice stadiums shared by the high schools here would work? With astro turf and all of that freed up time that the fields could be used? The savings could be used to keep a few teachers.

PTC Observer
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Ninja - I suppose

you will want to pass a law to take it away from him before he's able to donate it on his own?

After all he needs to pay his fair share right Ninja?

And who knows better how to spend Dar's money than the State! Certainly, not Dar.

Ninja Guy
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Wrong Again PTCO!

Dar has been harping about the city NOT taking is free gift! What is a fair share? I don't even know that that means! I know who Cher is, but not fair share! Dar seems to know how to spend his money--he seems to want to give it to the city. I guess that will make him happy! Ask him about that, not me!

PTC Observer
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Why Ninja, tell

me it's not true!

YOU can't tell us what "fair share" is?

You the Ninja can't define this?

What happened to your Goldie Locks "just about right" government philosophy?

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