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District digs into grass, turf issues

KINGSTON — While dirty uniforms are the norm for North Kitsap student athletes, those who will use the yet-to-be-built sports field at the proposed high school in Kingston might just break from tradition.

The North Kitsap School Board of Directors last week considered this break as they discussed the financial realities of artificial turf versus natural grass at the May 13 board study session.

And while grass is ultimately cheaper, the artificial surface provides other benefits that might be worth paying for, making the turf decision a tough one.

The district, in collaboration with Bassetti Architects and Cascade Design, has created an eight-year cost comparison in using an artificial turf field versus a natural grass field. In eight years time, a turf field is projected to cost the district approximately $1.4 million while grass would cost around $1 million, reported NKSD’s Capital Programs Director Robin Shoemaker.

But Shoemaker added that while turf is more expensive, it can provide other benefits.

“It’s both environmentally friendly but also it gives you so much more utility,” Shoemaker said. “It’s definitely a positive way to go.”

A turf field could be used for the duration of the school year, unlike a grass field which could potentially deteriorate over time and during the Northwest’s prolonged winter rains. It also would require no irrigation and little maintenance.

“There’s an additional cost to the grass field and that is we can’t use it most of the year,” added school board member Dan Delaney at the study session.

“I don’t see why we should spend all the money on a grass field that we can’t use,” said board member Ed Strickland, echoing Delaney’s concerns.

The major detractor from using turf is the initial cost of installation, Shoemaker said. A turf field would cost $696,000 to install as opposed to a $290,000 grass field in the same space.

The school board will again discuss the issue at length at 7 p.m. May 27 at its bi-weekly meeting at NKSD Administrative Offices.

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