Artificial turf to be ‘a tremendous benefit’ for Mehlville School District

To the editor:

The Oakville Mehlville Athletics and Activities Club appreciates the efforts of the many community volunteers who gave so much of their time to create a viable, no-cost solution to improve the athletic fields at Mehlville and Oakville high school.

The turf project is a result of nearly two years of parent-led studies and community input, designed to offset the following issues found by the Long Range Planning Committee:

• Both high school sites are 50 percent below the state recommendation for space, the worst student-to-space ratio in the St. Louis metro area.

• The main fields are overused, consistently in poor shape and lead to unnecessary and documented injuries.

• The district currently spends more than $100,000 a year in grass-field maintenance and additional transportation costs to move students to off-site fields.

• Student safety and security is adversely affected when the district is forced to transport athletic teams to practice at off-site lo-cations.

• Revenue is lost and additional transportation costs are incurred when games and practices must be relocated due to poor field conditions.

Recognizing our district’s current budget constraints, our volunteer committees worked tirelessly with the two school administrations to go through a formal, public and fully transparent process to address these issues. The result is a plan to install synthetic turf at both our high schools next summer. This plan meets our safety, utility and longevity objectives at no extra cost and will add many benefits to our kids, teachers and taxpayers.

Although this is a no-cost improvement to our district, it was not an easy decision for the administration or the school board, mainly because of the “luxury” perception of new fields. However, after almost a year of reviewing and verifying the overwhelmingly positive financial facts, improved safety features and tenfold increase in usage for our students, the Mehlville school board approved the community-recommended synthetic turf improvement project.

The school district is positively responding to a thoroughly researched community suggestion and redirecting current expenses toward a project that will yield great benefit to all its constituents.

In addition, the district will now be better positioned to generate new revenues from field rentals and field advertisements, which our community volunteers are already developing as we speak.

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Artificial turf for our high schools’ main playing fields will be a tremendous benefit for the district, its taxpayers and, most importantly, our students. Our students will now be able to use the fields for PE class, band and have year-round sports access for many years to come. Thanks go to all the parents, business leaders and citizens who brought this project to the attention of the district.

Special thanks go to the administration and school board for supporting this very important school improvement project. This endeavor reflects what a community can achieve by working together to improve their school district.

We look forward to seeing this project completed at both high schools and ready for use starting in the 2007 school year.

Brian Deters


Oakville Mehlville Athletics & Activities Club