After comparing the cost of installation of an artificial turf infield and maintenance of the grass field over the next 10 years, the Augusta School Board voted to install the artificial turf.
The cost of the new artificial turf infield combined with a new irrigation system for the outfield at Rodney Wheeler Stadium will be $318,317. The construction fund will supply about $120,000 of the money with the remainder being financed with a lease purchase plan at an interest rate of 3.06% over the next five years.
Board members Kim Brungardt and Matthew Blank voted against the new turf infield.
Superintendent John Black told the board that the infield has deteriorated a great deal over the past few years thanks to drought conditions and water restrictions. He said the poor condition of the field made the surface unpredictable and potentially unsafe.
The $300,000 will provide turf for the infield and bullpens on both sides on the field. It will also include a six-foot apron to help the transition between the infield and outfield.
To carpet the entire field would have cost about $1 million.
"It doesn't look like it, but there is actually more surface area on the baseball field than the football field," Black said.
Brungardt asked if there was a guarantee that the field would last long enough to provide a return on investment given the numbers provided to the board.
"To me it is a math problem," she said. "If the turf lasts more than 10 years, we will be money ahead. But this still doesn't solve the outfield problem."
Blank had concerns because the surface was chosen in a committee action from nationally selected vendors. Even though he said he trusted the opinion of those who were part of choosing the surface, he said he would prefer to have the specs and guarantee information so that he could explain his vote in either direction to constituents who questioned him.
Andy Hall made the motion to approve the new artificial turf. It was seconded by Charlie Garcia and passed 5-2. Hall also moved to approve the new irrigation system in the outfield. That motion was seconded by Bob McCalla and passed 6-1 with only Blank voting against.