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Sports leaders weigh in on LCHS field contract

January 27, 2011|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com
(Tim Berger/Staff…)

Leaders of La Cañada sports groups asked La Cañada Unified School District officials not forget about them as the district investigates the possibility of nullifying a current contract and entering into a new one for the use and upkeep of La Cañada High School's football field.

The requests came during the city and school board's joint-use committee meeting Thursday morning.

Concerns about the limited availability of the field, under the district's current agreement with the Arroyo United Foundation and Spartan Boosters Club, were raised by members of the La Cañada Gladiators youth football program and a La Cañada High coach.

The district is looking into terminating its current contract with Arroyo Foundation and the Spartan Boosters that lasts through 2018, and entering into a similar contract with a new organization for joint-use of the field. There won't be anything new to report on the situation unless the current contract is terminated. A meeting between the three parties is coming up in the next couple of weeks, Supt. Jim Stratton said.

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"Right now we're trying to clarify the ongoing commitment to that contract," Stratton said.

La Cañada High's field will need to be replaced within the next four years. The estimated cost for replacing the field's artificial turf is $382,000, said Mike Leininger, the district's assistant superintendent of facilities and operations.

The problem is the Arroyo Foundation and Boosters Club have had difficulty meeting their respective annual payments of $8,000 and $5,000, which are designated to be used for maintaining and replacing the seven-year old field. This has the district researching alternative arrangements.

Cindy Wilcox, a school board member, said she's wary of entering into a similar agreement with a new organization, which Leininger describes as his ideal situation. The problem with the current arrangement, Wilcox says, is that the field becomes overused. The Arroyo United Foundation had control of the field on weekends and weekday evenings — from 5:30 p.m. on, she said.

"The grass never rested," she said. "I'm really reluctant to sign another contract when we need to rehabilitate that field. If the [next group] takes as many hours, I don't want to sign that contract."

Alison Dodson, coach of the La Cañada High girls' lacrosse team, raised concerns about the limited use of the field Thursday morning.

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