Originally Published: December 9, 2018 10:22 p.m.
Prescott High School will have a new $2 million track and artificial turf field as of next fall.
It, too, is likely to have all new stadium lighting and bleacher safety rails — the predicted price tag for those additions will be about $470,000, although administrators are negotiating those costs.
For an additional $50,000, the practice field could also be retrofitted with up-to-date lighting fixtures.
Bond money is expected to be used for the one-time expenditure that will replace the existing lights that are now virtually extinct.
On Tuesday night, the Prescott Unified School Governing Board gave the nod to administrators to go forward with the stadium lighting, with member Maureen Erickson stating it makes no sense to do a major overhaul of the stadium facilities without proper lighting.
The existing lights are to be replaced with energy-efficient LED lights that can better direct light so that illumination is focused directly on the field.
Athletic Director Missy Townsend said the current lighting is not only ancient — they were installed in 1976 — but labor-intensive to replace. They are also inadequate for what is deemed standard for competitive athletic events, she explained.
The high school’s main sports facility is used primarily for football, soccer and track, but with artificial turf the complex will also be suitable for other school events. One of the main spring school events scheduled for the field is high school graduation.
“It will, literally, be night and day,” Townsend said of the new lighting that is expected to last at least 50 years or more, and the poles are portable if ever Prescott opens a new high school elsewhere.
The railing project, expected to cost no more than $20,000, is for the concrete bleachers. As the railings are a safety feature, Townsend and district administrators will request state funding for that project.
District Superintendent Joe Howard said he has high hopes the lighting project can be made more affordable. Still, Howard concurred with Townsend and board members that the lighting and rails are integral to a modern stadium complex.
As this is an administrative decision, Howard said the goal will be to work with vendors on price and then meet with the bond committee about covering those costs. Once the project is finalized, Howard said he will inform the board about timing and costs. The lighting installation can be done this school year.
“I intend to do it. I think it’s a need; we just have to figure it out,” Howard concluded.
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