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Vinland Elementary steps up to remedy North Kitsap fields shortage

This watercolor shows the final product of Vinland’s field restoration project. The new field should be playtime ready in the fall of 2009 and maybe as soon as spring 2009. - Courtesy illustration
This watercolor shows the final product of Vinland’s field restoration project. The new field should be playtime ready in the fall of 2009 and maybe as soon as spring 2009.
— image credit: Courtesy illustration

POULSBO — The North End communities need more playing fields.

After years of waiting and more than two years of leg work and fundraising, staff, parents, PTSA and volunteers at Vinland Elementary are armed and ready to fill the field shortage void by renovating the school’s playground field.

“Talk to anybody and they say we need more fields, so it really is a need and the need is only going to go up. This is what people were saying five years ago,” said Charley McCabe, Vinland’s principal for 10 years. “It’s just terribly exciting. It’s going to double the capacity that’s available to community groups.”

And the project they’ve planned is “gold platinum” compared to the current status of the field and the original construction plan.

As it sits now the field has inadequate irrigation and drainage, a slope in the back and is smaller than its potential.

But that’s all about to change.

The initial idea was to level out the current field and turn it into two full-sized soccer fields.

And that idea’s already changed.

In its place the outdated field will be leveled, pushed back 40 feet to allow for the two full-sized soccer fields and the backstop in the center will be moved to two corners for two full-sized baseball fields. Around the perimeter of the new field will be a walking track made entirely of recycled tennis shoes, exercise stations will accompany the walking track, which has ADA access, and behind the walking track there will be a low-tech ropes course.

“This is like gold platinum compared to the original bid,” said PTA and parent Crystal Rich, who’s made the project her baby for two-and-a-half years. “We’re trying to fill a void in the community so this is really a treasure for all of us.”

The finished field can be used for North Kitsap Soccer Club games and practices, Poulsbo Parks and Recreation programs and other community needs.

Topping the field improvement list is replacing the irrigation and enhancing drainage.

Rich said the drainage system, built 15 years ago, wasn’t designed for a climate bordering a rainforest and the irrigation system lacks necessary water pressure.

“Part of the year the field has water pools that have tadpoles, which is great if you’re doing a science project, but not for playing,” she said. “And part of the year it’s bone dry.”

The new and improved irrigation line will tie into the fire hydrant on the playground for proper pressure. It’s also environmentally savvy — a reoccurring theme in the renovation.

Each irrigation head has a sensor to monitor moisture content, so the grass will only be watered when needed.

“It uses about a quarter of the amount of water that most irrigation systems use,” Rich said.

Rich said Kitsap County has a water supply shortage, but the new drainage system will accommodate for Vinland’s use.

Larger drain lines will be placed in trenches lined with pea-sized gravel, and once the excess trickles down through the grass, topsoil and drainage system it will be good-as-new drinking water, Rich said.

“It will drain into the two water retention ponds, which will recharge the aquifer with pure water,” she said. “This is a very responsible way to deal with our water and drinking issues.”

The field should be in playing condition no later than Fall 2009, but possibly as soon as next spring.

With all the added improvements the price tag rings in at approximately $550,000.

That may be a high price to pay in light of rising prices across the board and declining school district budgets, but generosity is one thing North End communities aren’t short on.

“It’s a major capital improvement for the district and it’s being done by volunteers,” McCabe said. “There really is a list to make this project happen.”

The list of community helping hands is exhaustive, as approximately $118,000 has been given in in-kind services, materials provided at cost and donations.

“It’s amazing, peoples’ generosity when it comes to things for children,” Rich said. “There’s still people out there willing to work hard for a good cause.”

The project is still in need of materials and donations, namely irrigation and drainage pipe. To help out or donate contact Crystal Rich at richclan@native6.com.

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