Artificial turf project is stuck in the mud
Nevada Union High School’s football team will be slogging through the mud for at least one more season at Hooper Stadium.
The drive to raise as much as $350,000 for the development of an artificial-turf surface has accelerated during the summer, but anyone hoping for a synthetic field to replace the aging grass at Nevada Union will most likely have to wait until next year.
“I’m very, very appreciative of all the positive support we’ve been receiving,” said Nevada Union teacher and head football coach Dave Humphers. “We’re hoping to complete the fund-raising this year.”
Humphers and Mike Bratton, who is helping with the fund-raising, said they originally envisioned completing the fund-raising and construction in time for the upcoming football season.
“That was my original hope, but there’s more to putting in a synthetic field than just fund-raising,” Humphers said.
The effort to install synthetic turf at Hooper Stadium began in earnest over the spring, when Humphers and a group of athletic-program supporters began discussing the idea of replacing the grass at Hooper Stadium with an all-season surface that could be used by students and the community throughout the year. The grass field is roped off part of each year for maintenance.
Humphers and members of the community have raised $125,000 so far for the engineering and construction of the field at Nevada Union, which includes a $50,000 contribution from Nevada County and another $50,000 raised from an auction held at the Miners Foundry.
A similar field has also been discussed to replace the grass at Bear River High School’s J. David Ramsey Stadium.
Humphers and others have touted the benefits of synthetic turf, saying that the surface, which is made of a composite of rubber and ground rocks, helps prevent injuries and lasts longer than conventional grass.
The Nevada Joint Union High School District has not committed any money to the project, said Julie Hopkins, the district’s assistant superintendent for business services, because the district’s legal counsel hasn’t been able to provide a clear definition of what public money could be used for the construction of a synthetic-turf field.
The district has discussed the possible use of developer fees – money paid to the district by residential builders to compensate the school district for the cost of educating future students – to pay for part of the construction but won’t commit to using them at this point, she said.
Developer fees can only be used to pay for construction of school facilities. Annually, the high school district receives about $1 million in these fees, Hopkins said.
The district may have to use some of the money this year to finance the completion of Bear River’s aquatics center and performing arts building, she said.
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