Turf replacement

Teton County School District No. 1 has approved a contract to replace all three synthetic turf fields, which have outlived the industry standard.

Sometimes, out of controversy comes compromise.

At the Teton County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees’ May meeting, trustees received public comment that one sport was being left out of the update of the synthetic sports fields — lacrosse. Jackson Hole Lacrosse Club Executive Director David Madeira and parents spoke about the need for having lacrosse lines on the new fields.

“We do serve a large number of the students in the district,” he told the board. “We feel that our club’s mission is complementary to the school district mission.”

Following the May meeting, a flood of letters (nearly 100) hit the trustees’ inboxes. A bevy of parents implored the board to include boys and girls lacrosse lines on the fields.

Though the original request for proposals didn't specify lacrosse markings, the original design included lines for soccer and football, as well as universal lacrosse lines on one field. Currently, the fields near Jackson Hole High School are primarily used by the district for soccer and rented for other activities, including lacrosse. One will be striped for football in case the district later decides to move the football stadium there, Trustee Bill Scarlett said.

Lacrosse parents felt that the growing popularity of the sport necessitated the inclusion of the lines. Right now, the club has to temporarily stripe the lines for each tournament, which costs time and money.

Permanently including the lines, parents wrote, would help the sport grow.

“Please add lining/stitching on all 3 synthetic fields for lacrosse (girls and boys),” parent Kristin Painter wrote. “It helps the players understand the game rules to have these visible and allows the sport to continue to flourish here.”

Most letters featured some version of Painter’s plea. The Lacrosse Club travels frequently for tournaments, and Madeira told the News&Guide that permanent lines are the norm.

“It is common throughout the country to see multi-use fields lined for all sports,” he wrote in an email Tuesday. “We feel that is the appropriate approach to such a finite resource in our community for these community fields paid for by taxpayer dollars.”

However, it appeared that the lines would not be included, at least not in the form the club was asking for. The request for proposals came out in March, and the contract was approved in April without the lacrosse lines. The club’s advocacy did not begin in earnest until May.

Since the fields are synthetic, they have to be made in the Field Turf factory, so changes aren’t easy to make.

“It’s already baked into the design,” Scarlett said last week.

The district did tell the lacrosse club that one field would have “unified” lines, which some states use for both boys and girls lacrosse. Madeira said the district told him the contract couldn’t be changed for all three fields, but he appreciates that one field will have the lacrosse markings.

“This is a great step in providing youth lacrosse athletes with facilities that put them on equal footing with their competition in the region,” he wrote.

Still, he believes that lining all the fields for the three sports would be the right move. With the explosive growth of lacrosse in the United States and Jackson, he and the dozens of families who wrote to the school board see it as deserving of permanent inclusion.

He’ll have a while to plan his next round of advocacy, however, since the industry-standard lifespan of the synthetic fields is 10 years.

“We hope that the next time these fields are re-built (approximately 10 years plus from now), they will be lined for all sports,” Madeira wrote. “We remain grateful for our inclusion in this year’s project.”

This story has been updated to show that although the contract and request for proposal may not have included lacrosses lines on all three fields, throughout the design process, one field included the universal lacrosse lines. — Ed. 

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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