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Artificial turf at the town's high school could move a step closer to approval Wednesday if the Palm Beach County School Board approves an agreement to go forward with the $800,000 project.
"Right now, we have to fill in the divots after a game," said Mike DeLeonardo, the 2,700-student school's athletic and activities director. "We are constantly mowing and doing upkeep. The artificial turf will be safer. It will allow us to hold more sporting events."
The Jupiter Town Council voted 4-0 last month to spend $400,000 for artificial turf on the 78,000-square-foot outdoor field. That amount is contingent on school boosters also raising $400,000.
If the agreement is approved Wednesday by the school board, bids would go out on the project. The final awarding of the bid must be approved by both the town council and the school district. The final vote is expected in June.
So far, the boosters have raised about $300,000. They must raise the full amount before the final vote.
"We are confident we can reach our goal," said Ernie Cox, a Jupiter resident who is one of the leaders in the fundraising effort.
Boca Raton High School, the only county school with artificial turf, installed the material in 2007. Injuries to students and maintenance costs have sharply decreased, said Amanda Angermeier, the school's athletic director.
"From the various sports at Boca High that utilize the field to community events that are sometimes held here as well, it is beneficial for the whole school environment," she said via email.
The school board now spends about $38,000 annually mowing and keeping up the Jupiter field on Military Trail. Smoothing out and filling in the surface and other regular maintenance on the artificial turf would be about $1,800 annually, Principal Dan Frank said.
That reduction in maintenance -- artificial turf does not have to be watered, fertilized, re-striped or mowed -- makes the investment worthwhile. Artificial turf lasts between eight and 12 years, supporters say.
Artificial turf would allow seven-day availability for not only school events but other sporting organizations, such as the Jupiter Tequesta Athletic Association. Jupiter Christian School would pay to play Friday night football games on the field, Town Councilman Todd Wodraska said.
The new field could attract outside tournaments for boys and girls sports such as football, soccer and lacrosse, said Wodraska, a Jupiter High graduate and former Warriors football player.
"This could be a boon to Jupiter restaurants, hotels and other businesses," he said.
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