By Kris Henry
Work continues at Dutch Meyer Field on the Crater High School campus but things appear to be shaping up nicely on a $1.3 million project to redo the track surface and lay down new artificial turf on the football field.
Crater athletic director David Heard said Friday that he anticipates the final touches on the turf installation to be completed within a week, with the track expected to be completed by Aug. 13, which is the first official day of fall practice.
“It’s going to be great for the kids and something we needed to do,” said Heard. “The school district decided it was a maintenance issue and we had to do it so they were able to get the money to do it for us. Our turf was 12 years old and it was getting to the point where it was not as safe as it should be.”
Heard also said the track had never been redone down to the asphalt level, making this the perfect time to shore things up and eliminate concerns over cracking at the bottom layer that could eventually result in big issues.
These projects are in line with a host of improvements Heard and company have been able to generate in recent years, from a state-of-the-art scoreboard to foundation rocks and new entrances on the perimeter of the grandstands.
“We’ve just been lucky with the whole thing and lucky the community has supported us so much with everything we’ve tried to do,” said Heard.
More projects will be on the horizon, however, as Heard is trying to raise between $50-$75,000 for improvements on the adjacent grass field south of the track. That field is sloped, making it less than ideal. The plan is to level out the field, move the javelin area out of the main stadium to that perimeter area and create a pair of practice fields that will run perpendicular to Highway 99, one about 40 or 50 yards and the other about 80 yards.
“We need it because of the amount of use our Pop Warner teams have there with practices and all the youth soccer and band practices that go on in addition to our own team practices,” said Heard. “And that’s also going to give us a lot more area for (physical education) classes.”
The continual use of the fields is the main reason most of these projects are high on the priority list, according to Heard.
“There’s always some questions when you start redoing the track and turf,” he said, “but those things are used by our PE classes eight hours per day and then even more when you consider the teams and everything else.”
“The biggest pushback for us is not understanding that, No. 1, when stuff wears out you’ve got to replace it and, No. 2, it’s not just used by the football team,” added Heard. “The band, the community, all the kids at school use it. There are people on that field seven days a week and it allows for it because it’s artificial turf. If it was grass, we wouldn’t be able to do all these things.”
The turf plan for the football field has been reconfigured to create better use, and some special amenities will be added to provide for increased safety.
Long jump pits have been moved from the sideline area to the north side of the track behind the goal posts to allow for an additional 10 yards of width to the playing surface for the soccer programs. The field was previously 57 yards wide but will now by 67 yards to better accommodate national standards.
For the field itself, the Central Point School District paid a little extra to install an eco-layer as one of the three layers of turf, which is designed to reduce the heat coming off the field by about 20 degrees.
A cushdrain shock pad was also installed during the process. Where the previous surface essentially had only rolled gravel as the supporting layer, the new process involves a mixture that is layered out about one-half to three-quarters of an inch thick and then dries to create a softer base.
“It’s supposed to reduce knee injuries and concussions and that kind of thing,” said Heard.
The current project in Central Point also mirrors work being done at stadiums familiar to Southern Oregon fans at Grants Pass and Roseburg high schools. Grants Pass has replaced its football surface with new artificial turf after 13 years at Mel Ingram Field, while Roseburg is struggling to replace the 13-year-old surface at Finlay Field.
Turf installation in Roseburg hit a snag when Knife River officials found several issues with the prior setup as they did their underlayment repair work. Besides several soft spots, it was discovered that the goalpost in the west end zone was substantially lower than the one on the opposing end, and the entire field was sloped and needed to be leveled.
With several delays, Roseburg will not be able to play Mountain View on its home field for its football season opener on Aug. 31 but expects to have use of the field by mid-September. Provisions for football and soccer practices are currently being made to make up for the loss of Finlay Field until turf installation is complete.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry