Turf project would actually save money
I am writing in response to the June 4 article "Niles stadium gets turf" written by Ashley Newman. Having been involved in a project (R.E.I.N., Renovating Excellence In Niles) for more than four years to renovate the athletic facilities in Niles, I can only take this article has a purposeful attack on the Niles City Schools and the work of the R.E.I.N. committee. Not one time in his 700-plus words does Mr. Newman mention the $400,000 that has been donated or pledged to this project by the Niles Area Chamber of Commerce, local businesses and people who share our vision of providing safe, first-class facilities to the young people of Niles.
The article intentionally makes it seem as though the school district is funding the entire cost of the project. You know this not to be the case. At minimum, your publication was aware of $350,000 in donations that R.E.I.N. had secured. These donations were documented in the Tribune Chronicle in an article titled "Securing the future" written on June 10 of last year.
At the board meeting on the June 3, I spoke in response to the many of the questions raised in the article yet my comments were not included in any explanation as to why the board of education has moved forward with the installation of the synthetic playing field.
So, please, set the record straight: The only money that the Niles City School District is putting toward the project is the money estimated that it had previously used to maintain the grass field. Many synthetic field installers estimate that figure to be more than $50,000 a year, but we studied the situation closely and determined that number to be 30 percent less. The school has committed to contributing for a period of eight years while the life expectancy of the surface is 12 years (a point that I addressed at the June 3 meeting). Therefore, their investment will likely SAVE the district more than $100,000 in the last four years of its life. Resurfacing at that point would be at a cost of $350,000 which, again, could be met by the school district by keeping the status quo in regard to its financial commitment to a playing surface at Bo Rein Stadium whether it be grass or synthetic.
I applaud the action taken by the board of education. They have accepted the generosity of our community while investing 0.15 percent of its operating budget that it was previously dedicating to maintaining the inadequate grass surface and have committed to a safer, more accessible playing surface for our football teams, boys and girls soccer teams, band and physical education classes in Niles.
While we continue to Renovate Excellence In Niles, perhaps your publication can work toward the task of providing an accurate portrayal of the news it reports.