Pennsylvania Schools Discuss Artificial Turf

April 11, 2013 / Lacrosse

More than half of the 32 high schools in the Mid-Penn Conference are sporting at least one artificial turf field, and several more taking a serious look at adding one. But with increasing budget constraints due to rising pension costs and other factors, school districts are looking for financial community support before embarking on these improvements.

Artificial turf is under discussion in Camp Hill, Palmyra and Gettysburg school districts, among others. In Palmyra, where artificial turf is being given serious consideration for the second time in three years, the potential for community fund-raising to help defray the cost is under study. When the issue was last discussed in 2010, cost aroused concern of some in the community.

“It makes sense to me – it needs to be done. They’re beating the fields to death,” said Palmyra parent Dan Eisenhooth, a member of the field study committee. That group is researching how much money might be raised for artificial turf by booster clubs and community groups, and how long it might take to do so. Under consideration is adding an artificial turf field with bleachers and lights on a current practice field next to the high school baseball field, which would cost about $1.2 million.

“I think it’s absolutely doable,” Eisenhooth said, adding he believes the school district would still be asked to contribute funds. “I think we could raise a third or half, depending on how much time they give us,” he said. “We’re renting fields from a private company, we’re doing lots of things we could solve with just getting turf,” Eisenhooth said, referring to the district’s rental of artificial turf fields at In The Net, a private business, for field hockey, lacrosse and soccer.

Camp Hill School District continues exploration of whether to proceed with up to $4 million in upgrades to Seibert Park – including artificial turf in the stadium – and how to pay for it, said Dan Alleman, school board president. The project could also include bleacher repair, an all-weather track, new tennis courts and road improvements.

“Is this a gift the community wants to support, and is this a gift we can afford to receive?” are questions Alleman said must be answered. Artificial turf needs to be replaced about every 10 years, he said. “So we need to know on the front end, so we can budget.”

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