Playing fields don't come cheap, especially when they are covered in artificial turf — it cost $800,000 to refurbish in 2007 — so the Piedmont Unified School District and the City of Piedmont are moving ahead with a joint plan to establish a special fund for future replacement projects.
The city council supported moving forward with the idea for a joint Facilities Preservation Fund at its Oct. 3 meeting, and school board members added their support at Wednesday night's board meeting.
Key to the plan is a goal of raising at least an additional $25 per athlete, per sports season, through a combination of fees and donations from school athletes, participants in programs and members of youth sports organizations. This could raise an estimated $142,000 a year for the fund.
Nearly 70 percent of readers responding to a recent Piedmont Patch poll about the proposed fees indicated they would be willing to pay the extra $25. See the poll results and background information about the Facilities Preservation Fund .
The next step will likely be for PUSD Superintendent Connie Hubbard and City Administrator Geoff Grote to continue working on details of the plan, followed by referring it to the district's City Liaison Committee. Hubbard said that new state regulations affecting school athletics will require some changes to the draft plan, which was completed at the end of July.
School board members noted Wednesday that response from the city's youth sports groups, including the Piedmont Basketball Foundation, Piedmont Baseball Softball Foundation, Piedmont Soccer Club and Skyline Lacrosse Club, has generally been positive.
But sports clubs and other Piedmonters have also asked the city and school district to make sure that field usage is as fair and accessible as possible, they said.
It's no single group making that request, stressed board member Ray Gadbois, former Board of Education president and a member of the group that prepared the draft report. It's a common concern because Piedmont simply doesn't have enough facilities to accommodate all its youth sports activities all the time, he said.
Possible partial solutions to the problem include making sure that playing time reserved by various teams is actually used.
The complete draft plan is included with the agenda packet for the Oct. 12 board meeting. You may download a copy at the school district's website.