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District OKs turf spending

The saga of artificial turf fields continued Monday, as the Lake Oswego School Board approved $42,000 in additional spending to complete the planning of two resurfacing projects.

The vote moved projects at Lake Oswego and Lakeridge high schools ahead as officials also unveiled an architectural design depicting landscape changes at the Lakeridge site.

Monday's decision does not affect separate plans for an artificial turf field at Luscher Farm.

The extra funds top off $50,000 in previously approved spending to cover planning fees ranging from architectural to legal to surveying.

'We asked for money to get started and we knew we'd need more if we were going to go forward,' said Superintendent Bill Kor-ach. 'Initially, we didn't know if we'd be able to do two fields. Now it looks as though we will.'

Projected costs exceed previous estimates because resurfacing the practice field at Lakeridge - which is located in a residential area - requires approval from the city's conditional use department, said Stuart Ketzler, district director of finance.

The resurfacing project at Lakeridge has been the subject of ongoing debate and controversy. For years, neighbors have complained about the potential for more noise and traffic once the field is completed.

Efforts taken by the district's attorney to complete an application for the city, coupled with the implementation of a noise and traffic study, will cost the district $12,500 more than anticipated.

Each site must also undergo analysis and changes to meet city code requirements for water quality and detention, Ketzler added.

Together, the projects had an original planning phase cost estimate of $50,000. That figure rose to $92,000 (about one-ninth of the projects' total cost). An additional $5,000 per site will be payable upon the completion of the bidding and construction phases.

Several of the board members expressed concern about specifics of the spending, including the need to conduct a new land survey at LOHS.

Board member Rich Akerman thought the district could reuse the old survey, which was completed before the school remodel.

'I knew … there were drawings already available to use, but because of the remodel, things were moved and they have to resurvey it,' he said.

After doing research of his own, Akerman deciding the extra planning costs were necessary in the grand scheme of the projects. He's no longer concerned, he said.

'When you're spending the public's money, you just want to make sure you get the biggest bang for the buck and get it done right,' he added.

Korach emphasized that the project must progress swiftly to assure turf donations and construction time aren't put at risk.

'These aren't surprise costs,' Korach told the board. 'We've got it going. Now, they're asking you to exceed that. We're very optimistic and timing is everything.'

If planning moves smoothly - and full city approval is obtained quickly - construction could begin at LOHS this winter, while the Lakeridge project could kick off in the summer of 2007.

Total construction will take between eight and 10 weeks, said Rob Dreier, director of engineering services. He noted that the Lakeridge project could possibly conflict with community sporting events held there.