P-O considers changes to athletic fields

The one thing everyone can agree on is that Philipsburg-Osceola’s sports fields are not good. From Memorial Field, built in a flood plain with a field house so that bad opposing players have avoided using it, to a softball field built on rock too dense to do test borings, to a soccer field whose coach deems it “just plain dangerous,” they all need work.

The P-O Education Foundation was founded with a primary goal of raising money to fix the football field house, but over the past nine months, that project grew to the plans presented to the school board Tuesday night. The options were to create a new complex of sports fields on the existing grounds at the high school or to rotate the field at the current stadium.

Dan Nelson came to the meeting to get direction from the board. Which option would members endorse? The short answer came back. We don’t know.

The plans raised questions. For board member Jim Verbeck, it was money. How much would it cost. Superintendent Gregg Paladina said the two designs were comparable, between $4 and 6 million, depending on extras.

For board member Nancy Lamb, it was logistics. Where would softball fit into the high school design?

The details, Paladina said, could be worked out later. The important thing for fundraising was direction.

“This isn’t this year,” said Paladina, who is trying to find a way to improve facilities with as little taxpayer money as possible.

He envisions implementation over three to five years, possibly in stages, with the foundation covering portions via donations and the district lending a hand for others. However, he is not prepared to commit district money yet and said that picking a design does not obligate the district.

Paladina anticipates an answer at the Sept. 23 board meeting.