By ERIC A. HOWALD Of the Keizertimes
If everything goes according to plan, McNary High School athletic teams may be playing on a synthetic turf, multipurpose field come fall 2015.
That mouthful is what organizers would prefer everyone call the field likely to replace the currently grass football field. Success will depend on school and community leaders coming up with the half-million in cash and half-million in in-kind donations of services to install it next summer.
John Honey, McNary principal, said discussions for a new synthetic turf heated up as conversations about the Big Toy build in Keizer Rapids Park gained steam.
“They are two valuable projects that serve kids. As supportive as Keizer is, there probably isn’t $4 million out there for the projects and while the Big Toy serves kids during the summer, a new field could serve the community year-round,” Honey said.
Currently groups seeking to use the field are rejected almost out of pocket, Honey said.
“We spend most of the time trying to keep people off the field for the times that football, soccer and track teams use it,” he said.
With a synthetic surface, the school could begin hosting club sports like lacrosse and community efforts like American Cancer Society walk-a-thons. The band would also be able to practice on the field more than once a week beginning at 9 p.m.
“One of the problems is that if the band marches on the current field in the same pattern over and over, there is going to be a rut. On a synthetic turf, they can march in the same place without an impact,” Honey said.
Honey, who led North Salem High School when that school installed a turf field, said that the biggest advantage comes in upkeep. With the grass field, upkeep amounts to about $30,000 per year, but a turf field requires only two tools.
“It needs a special rake to loosen the fiber and a vacuum to pull out the organic material that gets stuck there,” he said.
Honey’s team borrowed the necessary equipment from neighboring districts at North Salem, but said the Salem-Keizer School District (SKSD) is looking at purchasing the equipment for the area high schools to share.