Washougal, Camas schools consider new turf for fields

Districts hoping to save money by using same firm

By Ray Legendre, Columbian staff writer

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Fishback Stadium’s timeworn turf has failed to slow Washougal High School’s football team during its 6-0 start to the 2011 season. But, if school district officials get their wish, this will be the last year the Panthers play on their current turf.

While the 9-year-old turf does not pose an increased injury risk to students who play football and soccer, it has surpassed the normal lifespan for such fields and is in need of a replacement, said Doug Bright, the Washougal School District’s human resources director.

Meanwhile in Camas, school officials are hoping to replace the turf at Cardon Field, the home of Camas High School’s junior varsity and freshman football teams, plus a slew of other high school and youth league teams.

Camas and Washougal school officials are hoping to use the same field turf company to save money. The rationale is that a turf company replacing turf in the neighboring cities would incur less costs moving equipment and putting workers in hotels, and thus would charge the school districts less.

Whether such a plan would work won’t be known until companies put out bids. It will also depend on whether the districts have available money for the projects at the same time.

Washougal’s school district brought in coaches during a meeting two weeks ago to discuss their turf concerns. The district is looking for a community volunteer to lead efforts to raise money for new turf, Bright said.

Bright estimated it would probably cost $350,000 to $400,000 to replace Fishback Stadium’s turf.

“We’re just in the initial stages with the whole process,” Bright said. “We want to get going as fast as possible.”

The district’s goal, he added, is to have the turf replaced before the start of the 2012-13 school year.

Camas’ talks about replacing Cardon Field’s turf are not at the same stage as Washougal’s talks about Fishback Stadium’s turf, Camas High athletics director Terry Cavender said. Even so, he estimated his district’s turf project would likely cost about the same as Washougal’s.

The Camas School District has not set out a specific timeline for replacing Cardon Field’s decade-old turf. Before that can happen, the school board, the district’s business manager and other district leaders must first discuss the need for a new field and how to pay for it, Cavender noted.

Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517; www.facebook.com/raylegend; www.twitter.com/col_smallcities; ray.legendre@columbian.com