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Artificial turf in the works for North Clackamas high schools

All three high schools will have artificial turf by the fall of 2008

The North Clackamas School District's three high schools are in line to get artificial turf by the fall of 2008, thanks to a partnership between the school district, the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District, and sports boosters in the community.

The three fields will be constructed for a combined cost of around $2.7 million, with $500,000 coming from the parks district, $400,000 coming from boosters, and the remainder from money raised through the passage of last November's school district construction bond.

'The original bond measure had $6 million in it for improvements to fields and athletic facilities,' said school district superintendent Ron Naso. 'After getting input from the community that $6 million was too much, we scaled it back to $3 million and said that if we did the [artificial turf] fields, we'd do it through partnerships with other agencies and the community.'

Construction of the artificial turf field at Clackamas High School will begin on May 21 of this year, and construction is expected to be completed in time for football daily doubles in mid-August.

The artificial turf fields will be constructed at Milwaukie and Putnam high schools a year from now, with construction following a similar timeline.

'It's not a slight to Milwaukie and Putnam [that they aren't getting it this year],' said Naso. 'It's just that we have so much more that we're doing at those campuses, that it's going to take more time.'

Naso said that improvements at Milwaukie and Putnam will include the construction of new tracks, among other things.

'We've got an engineer studying the athletic sites at Milwaukie and Putnam to see if it's feasible to make the new tracks at those schools eight lanes,' said Naso.

While the parks district is funding $250,000 each for the fields at Milwaukie and Putnam, Clackamas High has elected to fund its artificial turf field without parks district funds.

Originally there was close to $200,000 in bond money dedicated to upgrading and covering Clackamas' grandstands. That project has been postponed, with the money saved going toward Clackamas' new all-weather field.

Clackamas boosters have also pledged to raise $20,000 per year over the next 10 years to go towards the field construction.

Boosters at Putnam and Milwaukie are being asked to raise approximately $10,000 per year over 10 years towards the construction of their all-weather fields.

'This is going to help the Clackamas High area tremendously,' said Clackamas athletic director Jeff Erdman. 'Baseball and softball teams can set up areas for infield practice. It'll help with physical education classes, marching band, dance team, youth and high school soccer and football, lacrosse and rugby, adult leagues in the winter. It's going to help so much!'

Erdman said that the grass field now in use at Clackamas is used only three months out of the year because it gets so beat up by football and soccer teams in the fall that it needs that much time to recover.

'It'll give us a 10-fold increase in use,' said Erdman. 'We'll get thousands of hours of use in a year, instead of hundreds of hours.

'I'm very, very excited! It's going to be a tremendous asset for Clackamas and for the Clackamas community.'