Several years ago, a local sports and community advocacy group raised thousands of dollars to upgrade the Ithaca High School football stadium.
These improvements, including the installation of a Jumbotron, made the installation a centerpiece, not only for football, but also for other school teams and activities.
However, at the time, nothing was done on the ground itself.
Today, the Ithaca school board is faced with an expensive renovation project.
According to a press release, the work required includes leveling the land, installing a new irrigation system and drainage tiles, replacing existing storm sewers and a new grassed area.
“A huge amount of water causing the stadium’s current problems comes from the service road, the parking lot, the (agricultural) barn near the school and the surrounding berms,” ââthe press release said. âThe biggest problem is drainage and the lack of proper tiling on the land for many years, and it has always been difficult to spend school money on the land. “
Sometimes the grass surface has become unsafe for playing, causing the games to move to other grounds,
Although the district was simply considering replacing the playing surface with turf again, which would still require mowing and other maintenance, another alternative was offered.
The same local family who helped fund previous stadium upgrades are offering to pay for the installation of a synthetic turf playing surface as well as a new drainage system.
The donation would save district taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, school officials said.
For now, the family who made the renovations possible wish to remain anonymous.
In addition to the initial contribution, the family would make another donation to the district to establish an interest-bearing account that would help replace the sod in 12 to 15 years.
The only other synthetic turf field in Gratiot County is at Alma College, where many Ithaca football games have had to be relocated in the past due to the wet, muddy and dangerous conditions of its home field.
The proposed project not only includes improvements to the playing surface, but also includes a scholarship program for graduates of the county’s six high schools, and one that will honor local military and veterans.
Other Gratiot County schools would also have the option of using the land when available.
A committee has been set up to help the donor family to make the proposed project possible.
Members will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at the high school media center to present more details to the school board.
The public is invited to attend.