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Stafford crowd concerned over athletic fields



Date published: 12/6/2012

BY AMY FLOWERS UMBLE

Wednesday night's meeting about Stafford High School became a turf war, albeit a mild one.

About 50 parents, teachers and students showed up at a community information meeting to learn more about the approved rebuilding project.

Most voiced concerns over the construction project's planned disruption of sporting events.

They wanted to know why the school system wasn't going to construct an artificial turf field to accommodate most of the teams that will be affected by the construction.

Scott Horan, superintendent of facilities for Stafford County Public Schools, led the meeting and tried to answer questions from the audience.

Stafford High School is 38 years old, and just about everyone involved agrees that the school needs to be rebuilt.

But as the project's start date draws nearer, people have come forward with concerns, particularly about the athletic fields.

Construction crews will do most of the work from May 2013 through December 2015.

The new school will be built on the current practice fields, and while construction is under way, those fields will be unusable.

This would affect five Stafford High teams: lacrosse, boys soccer, boys and girls tennis and football.

The construction would also impact the baseball and softball teams, because the school division plans to use those fields for some football and soccer practices.

"The baseball program is being gutted for two years," said Dave Bohmke, whose wife serves on the School Board. The couple's sons have played baseball for Stafford High School.

Parents of baseball players put more than $20,000 into the upkeep of the fields each year, and they have been upset by plans to let the football team practice on the baseball field.

Horan told parents that there are no easy answers, and that the School Board considered seven options, including one that would have created an artificial turf to lessen the strain on the baseball fields.

Horan said that the turf was abandoned mainly because of cost.

"I know that's not the answer you want to hear," he said.

Several parents asked how much the school division could earn by renting out the turf field, which some schools in neighboring counties do.

Horan said that he didn't know and that the School Board hadn't requested those figures.


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1974

When Stafford High School was built

2011

When the rebuild was approved

2015

When the project should be completed

1,924

Students currently enrolled at the school

2,000

Capacity of the new school

$66.6 million

Estimated cost of the project

PROJECT BACKGROUND