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The Town Council voted 4-0 Tuesday to spend $400,000 to install artificial turf on Jupiter High School's stadium field if school boosters can raise the same amount.
"I want to see the school as the center of the community. I want to build a relationship with the parents and the students from the time they play sports until they are handed their diploma," said Dan Frank, principal of the 2,700-student school on Military Trail.
Construction would start in June. The first game would be played in the fall.
"The town has a tremendous need for more field space for soccer, lacrosse and football," said Councilman Todd Wodraska, who played quarterback for the school's Warriors football team. Plans call for Jupiter Tequesta Athletic Association (JTAA) teams to play games at the stadium. Jupiter Christian School, which is in the nearby Jupiter River Estates neighborhood, would play Friday night games at the stadium.
The JTAA would not pay to use the stadium because it is a town organization. Jupiter Christian would pay because it is a private school .
The agreement is scheduled to go before the county school district April 16. If approved, bids would go out on the project. The final awarding of the bid must be approved by both the Jupiter Town Council and the school district.
The district has tentatively agreed to spend about $120,000 to resurface the Jupiter High running track if the artificial turf is installed, said Ernie Cox, one of the supporters helping to raise the money. Supporters have about $250,000 in pledges, Cox said.
Installing new natural grass on the 78,000-square-foot field, used for girls and boys football, soccer and lacrosse, would cost about $75,000. The grass has been replaced three times in the past decade. The reduction in maintenance -- artificial turf lasts about a dozen years and does not have to be watered or mowed -- makes the investment worthwhile, Cox said.
The new field would allow seven-day availability for not only school events but other sporting organizations. The new field also could attract outside tournaments .
Artificial turf has had complaints from users. The firmer surface can be tough on knees, it does not have the cooling capacity of natural grass, and the field can get hot.
Temperatures on artificial turf are about 4 degrees higher on the field, according to a Palm Beach County School Board report following the 2008 installation of artificial turf at Boca Raton High School, the only Palm Beach County public school with artificial turf.
"We now have to limit the use of the field to make it safe for the players. Artificial turf would allow us to use the field all the time," said Frank, adding that about 800 student-athletes now use the field.
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