By Mary O’KEEFE
A picture of the artificial turf being watered at Crescenta Valley High School sparked a lot of discussion on social media.
The turf is new and the watering is used to set the turf, said school principal Linda Junge.
The turf was installed over the summer and still requires maintenance, which includes watering. Watering in the past, prior to the new turf, was to keep the artificial grass cool. Several calls were placed to GUSD facilities to get more information on the maintenance; however, calls were not returned as of press time.
During the stream of conversations concerning the turf it appeared the history of the track and field had not been made clear or remembered.
The track and field was transferred from real grass to artificial turf about eight years ago thanks to a fundraising effort by local community members.
“About (11) years ago when [Jim] Brown was the superintendent we formed CV CAN,” said Mike Padula.
CV CAN (Crescenta Valley is Committed to Athletic Needs) was formed in 2004. The organization wanted to raise funds for the new track and field but also wanted to continue to support athletic needs throughout CV.
“For years we fundraised,” Padula said.
For three years there were casino nights, car washes and every type of fundraising the organization could think of.
“We got a bid of $1.4 million [for a new field] so that was our goal,” Padula said.
Over the three years the group raised over $200,000, which was a long way from the goal but moving in the right direction.
“Then Susan Osborne heard about us. She said, ‘I like what you guys are doing and your community involvement,’” Padula said.
Osborne donated $1.2 million to CV CAN and the field became a reality.
Padula and CV CAN members thought the hard part was raising the money but they soon found that was nothing compared to dealing with the district and the school board.
“[GUSD administrators] wanted an eight-lane track (CV CAN had planned a six lane) to host track events and they wanted a higher quality of [turf] which would cost an extra $300,000,” Padula said.
After many meetings it was negotiated that CV CAN would be responsible for $150,000 and the district would pick up the other half. After more negotiations and looking at specific savings highlighted by Padula, the final figure was $75,000.
“We still owe them money,” Padula said.
There were debates about lights versus no lights, about bleachers and field use. Padula said at one point the district administration had mentioned locking the gates and not allowing CV residents on the new track and field.
“I said the community paid for it, the community gets to use it,” Padula said.
At the time, a survey found the track had 55,000 users a month between kids and residents.
“Now [some of those users] may have been the same people who come every day or [evening], but that is why it’s not locked,” he said.
The real issue was the GUSD school board.
“They weren’t going to take our money,” he said.
The concern for some of the board members at the time was that the district was paying for the Glendale High School artificial turf, and CV had raised its own funds, but that left Hoover High School without a new field.
At the time Padula and fellow CV CAN member Grace Chase had offered to help Hoover raise funds for their field; however, they did not feel it was fair for CVHS to be penalized for raising funds for their athletes.
In the end, after a persuasive debate by then-board member Lina Harper and strong support from member Greg Krikorian, the district accepted the money and the field was built and completed in 2006.
Padula said at the time the cost to maintain the real grass field, with watering, planting and general maintenance, was $120,000 every two years. The savings the artificial turf provided was to be used to repair and replace the turf after about eight years.
CV CAN and the district did look at other ways to keep the turf cool and found that watering was the best way.
“[CV CAN] decided to put in sprinklers instead of doing what St. Francis High School did, which was using a [fire hydrant-type] equipment and hosing it off,” Padula said.
CV CAN continues to support the school by underwriting the CVHS Athletic Hall of Fame.