Three West Ada high schools are sticking with synthetic turf on their athletic fields rather than converting to grass now that the turf fields need replacing.
The West Ada School Board voted to keep the turf at Eagle, Meridian and Rocky Mountain high schools even though it means the district could face more than $1 million in replacement costs over the next several years as the turf wears out.
Converting to grass could be nearly as costly, but it would limit use by athletic and extracurricular groups, said Jason Sever, a Rocky Mountain parent and member of a 29-person committee that recommended staying with synthetic turf.
“If you go with grass, you are going to make it primarily a football facility,” Sever told trustees.
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Grass fields would be available for use only about twice a week or risk tearing up the natural turf, he said. That could leave other groups, such as band, having to find other places to practice.
Synthetic turf also allows for more community use for state and district track meets, as well as soccer games, marching band competitions and Special Olympics.
Synthetic turf will cost the district about $29 per student per year, compared to grass, which would be about $204, when the additional use of synthetic turf is considered, Sever said.
“I have to say I am extremely impressed by the economy of it,” trustee Mike Vuittonet said.
As the state faces the prospect of drought, “Grass may end up becoming a luxury that is even more expensive than it is now,” trustee Julie Madsen said.
Synthetic turf was donated and put in at Meridian and Eagle in 2006 and at Rocky Mountain in 2008. The life span of synthetic turf is about 10 years. No one has adopted a schedule for replacing the turf.
The district would likely pull money from its plant facilities fund to pay for the new artificial fields, district spokesman Eric Exline said.
Mountain View and Centennial high schools, both in the West Ada district, have grass fields.