By DON STINE
OCEAN TOWNSHIP – Ocean Township High School students can expect to see a new artificial turf field up and running this fall thanks to local residents and businesses pitching in with school officials to make it happen.
School Superintendent John Lysko said there has been a community initiative, together with school board involvement, to help fund the $700,000 field, which will replace the current grass field.
“This has been on our radar for awhile but it gained momentum this year with parents. They stepped forward to raise money and we had one private citizen give us a initial contribution of $100,000,” he said.
The Booster Club had also been involved and already held a number of fundraisers. Lysko said donations from private sources and local athletic organizations are also coming in.
“This is a perfect example of the community and school district working together in a collaborative effort that benefits the kids,” he said.
Lysko said artificial turf fields are becoming common. They are popular with schools and colleges and, in this case, it allows for multiple sports to use the field. The primary use is for football but it can also be lined for soccer, lacrosse and field hockey as well. Baseball and softball will not be played on the new field.
“In the long run these fields are easier to manage and maintain,” he said.
The school district may also be able to create some revenue from the field by renting it out for other sporting events.
And Lysko said he expects the fields will be up and running sometime in September.
“We hope to have the field up and running for the fall season,” he said.
High School Athletic Director Rusty Todd said the new field “is sorely needed.”
“We are one of the last in this area to do this and, fortunately, we have a lot of community supporters,” he said.
And Todd said the students are also anxiously awaiting the new field.
“The kids are excited about it and I hope everything goes smoothly and we can start the fall season on the field,” he said.
And while the first game of the football season is home, the next three games are away.
“So if we have to move one game in September to another site, that will give us the entire month of September to finish the field. At least it’s a viable option,” he said.
The cost for the new field will be more than $700,000. The Booster Club pledges to raise $216,000 (which includes the $100,000 donation). The Board of Education will apply $515,000 from its capital reserve fund.