Philipsburg-Osceola school board approves soccer field upgrades

Philipsburg-Osceola’s soccer program scored an upgraded field Tuesday.

The school board voted to authorize a maximum expenditure of $1,127,803.28 to refurbish the existing facilities at the senior high.

P-O’s field has been a topic of debate for years as maintenance and more were needed. The upgrades were not just cosmetic, putting a shiny new look on a tired patch of grass.

Coaches like Shawn Inlow have come to meetings, telling the board that the fields were actually unsafe.

“It’s dangerous,” said Superintendent Gregg Paladina.

The district chose to go with architect Field Turf and designers ELA Group Inc. Paladina said the two were working in tandem for the one package price, part of a state contract. Included in that was a $100,000 donation by the companies for the work doing the lettering and logo on the field.

But not everyone liked that idea. Board member Jim Verbeck questioned the process of choosing the team without competition.

“I think it should be bid,” he said. “How do you know without at least one comparison?”

Paladina and business manager Michael Conte both said the process was legal, as state contracts are still a competitive process designed to save agencies money by essentially “prebidding.”

But the field’s bill will also be covered by some financial maneuvering.

P-O will be refinancing a bond and receiving the savings benefit up front, taking about a million dollars that must be invested in a capital project. The district will then take the money for the field upgrade, which has been budgeted, and fold that into paying down existing debt, Paladina said.

Verbeck was the only dissenting vote.

Construction will begin in August and the field is expected to be in use by the fall soccer season, although Paladina did say some games may need to be rescheduled.

“We just wanted a nice field that everyone at P-O can be proud of,” Paladina said.

The field will also be used by baseball and softball teams for practice in the spring, for track and field and by physical education classes.