Letters to the Editor: July 16 – 22, 2015
Kudos for Council’s Decision To Replace School Turf
The City Council’s decision to replace the turf field at George Mason High School makes sense, for practical, safety and fiscal reasons. Widely used by high school teams and community groups, the field has served its purpose for nine years.
Replacing the turf immediately means we will get the most possible use before the new high school is designed, approved and completed – and that will take years. It is possible that the field will be in the same location, thus giving us its normal lifetime of 8-10 years. Even if the location is changed, we can’t simply shut down the current field and wait until construction is completed.
While perhaps most identified with activities such as high school football, Mason’s field is used for many other purposes, some of which generate revenues. For example, flag football enjoys enormous popularity, attracting nearly 300 participants and generating more than $25,000 in revenues. Fall recreational soccer attracts 600 participants, with youth lacrosse up to 300. Including clinics and camps, these recreational activities bring in $100,000 per year. This does not include revenues the school generates through rentals to groups.
Last year the City spent $10,000 remediating the turf. That process cannot be repeated. The field is worn out and is not safe. The argument is made that if the new school design calls for a different field location, we might only get 3-5 years usage out of a new field. However, if we don’t replace it, we’ll have to cut out virtually all activities for that time period.
Mason’s turf field is scheduled for more than 2,200 hours of usage annually. Three other turf fields were installed in the region at the same time as Mason’s; one has already been replaced and the other two are on the same schedule as ours. With the community increasingly demanding a wide range of recreational opportunities, we cannot afford to wait to replace the turf field at the high school.
Chair, Falls Church Recreation & Parks Advisory Board
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