Wauconda High could be next school with artificial turf field

Wauconda High School’s grass football field would be replaced with artificial turf in 2014 under plans now being developed, officials confirmed.

The project, which could cost $1.5 million, is part of a larger improvement package being considered for the various Wauconda Unit School District 118 campuses.

A new running track at Wauconda High, roof repairs at several buildings, a new play area at Cotton Creek School in Island Lake and other projects also are in the works. The total price tag could be $14 million or $15 million, Superintendent Daniel J. Coles said in an interview.

The turf project has roots in a $60 million construction plan approved by District 118 voters in 2005, Coles said. The heart of that plan was the construction of Matthews Middle School, an expansion of the high school and athletic-field improvements at the high school.

As part of the effort, the district was supposed to receive a $19.6 million grant from the state to match some of its costs, Coles said.

But the money never arrived.

This summer, however, officials learned the state finally would be cutting a check.

District officials first discussed replacing the grass at the high school’s Ray Porten Athletic Field with artificial turf in 2006, but the money that would have gone to the effort instead went to fix soil-related problems discovered during the construction work at the school, Coles said.

“There went the turf field,” Coles said. “Now we want to move forward with that.”

With the state money finally coming, district officials looked at the buildings and identified $31 million in needed repairs or improvements. Then they divided those projects by priority into two categories.

Those on the B-list are going to wait, Coles said.

Artificial turf was deemed an A-list project. So was the construction of a new running track at the field, which Coles said could cost $490,000.

Officials hope to seek bids for the turf and the other projects in January, Coles said. The board could vote on contracts in February.

If the effort moves forward, work on the field could begin in April and wrap up in August, Coles said.

“All of this is weather dependent,” he said. “We’re hoping for a drier spring and summer.”

When completed, the turf field would be used by football and soccer teams as well as the band and students in gym classes.

Additionally, Wauconda High’s baseball and softball teams could practice shagging fly balls on the field in the spring, officials said.

“We’re very excited about the updates to our athletic stadium,” Athletic Director Andy Lambert said in an email. “It will only enhance the overall experience of our student-athletes and our fans.”

Mundelein, Stevenson, Libertyville, Vernon Hills, Lake Zurich, and Carmel Catholic are among the Lake County high schools with artificial turf fields.

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