The Kanawha County Board of Education agreed to spend almost $9 million to install turf at seven high school football fields in the county.
School board members approved an $8,957,214 contract with the Montreal-based athletic turf company FieldTurf during their regular session meeting Thursday evening.
Currently, all of the fields are grass and, according to Executive Director of Facility Planning Chuck Smith, the upgrade to turf will only benefit the facilities due to the safety and maintenance issues grass causes.
“You get the grass out there, and it’s a lot of maintenance involved with that,” he said. “You’ve got safety issues involved; people all the time get hurt on grass fields, so the turf has been coming for a long time and has been needed for a long time.”
Smith said that a lot of other high schools in the state changed their facilities to turf fields long ago and that Kanawha County is just now getting to making the upgrade.
The funding for the project was obtained through an excess levy tax rate increase that Kanawha County residents voted to approve in the November 2018 election.
Riverside High School and Sissonville High School will be the first two schools to receive the turf installation after all the contracts are put into place and everything is finalized, according to Smith.
“People will be playing football at Riverside and Sissonville, unless we get a really long stretch of inclement weather, on their first game Aug. 13,” Smith said.
The remaining schools, besides Herbert Hoover High School, which will not be started until 2022 once the Board has access to the new site, are being looked at to start installation in spring 2020 and be completed before the following August.
While Capital High School is included in the budget and will possibly receive left-over funding at the end of the project, the school uses Laidley Field as its facility, which is not receiving turf installation.
BB&T was chosen to finance the money for four years and three months at an interest rate of 2.44 percent.
Initially when the excess levy ballot was being created, the project was anticipated to be spaced out over five years; however, due to inflation, the first year projects would be cheaper and then the price would increase in the following years.
Going with BB&T financing will save the Board money, according to Communications Director Briana Warner.
Director of Purchasing Alan Cummings said the Board was given proposals from both PNC and BB&T; however, PNC’s interest rate was much higher at 3.99 percent.
According to Cummings, the choice to go with BB&T over PNC is saving the Board around $300,000 in interest for the financing.
The Board also approved a contract with ZMM Architects & Engineers for the 2020-2030 Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan for $185,000.
ZMM was the highest scoring architectural company out of three.
“The CEFP is required by the state for us to come up with a comprehensive facilities plan for the next 10 years,” Smith said. “ZMM has extensive experience in doing so and throughout the State as well as in-depth knowledge of all of our facilities.”
According to Smith, the contract actually is cheaper than one that was approved 10 years ago.
Members of the Board will meet again on July 8 for a special session.