The new artifical surface at the football stadium will allow the community to utilize the field year-round and make the stadium one of the top five in southeastern Wisconsin, head football coach Mike Bartholomew said.
"I'm very excited for the community," he said. "I think it really makes (the stadium) a special place."
Bartholomew spoke the day after, commonly referred to by the brand name FieldTurf. He was on a committee that included band director Amy Fuchs, athletic director Greg Lampe and buildings and grounds manager Larry Savage that interviewed potential companies and studied bids.
"We absolutely did our due diligence to make sure we're getting an excellent product," he said.
The district has budgeted $1,042,370 to complete the project. The money will come from within the existing budget and won't require taxes to be raised, though Bartholomew acknowledged some of the residents' unrest over the price tag.
He noted the money is coming largely from restricted funds that can only be used for community projects like this one, and not for the district's general operations. According to minutes of a Feb. 20 committee meeting, the district is using leftover funds from this year's capital improvement projects budget, reserve funds in the community education/community services account, a one-time payment for a tax-incremental financing district closing in Franklin this spring and an unanticipated payment in Medicaid reimbursement.
Those are all one-time, non-recurring sources available in the current fiscal year, Business Services Director Cathy Cramer said.
Bartholomew said Oak Creek and other schools such as Greendale and Arrowhead have installed the turf in part because of Wisconsin's brutal weather. The grounds crew does what it can to maintain the field, but it takes a beating with all of the varsity, junior varsity and freshmen football games in the fall, he said.
With FieldTurf, all those and more activities can take place regardless of the weather, Bartholomew said. Officials expect marching band performances, soccer games, Oak Creek Youth Football games, WIAA playoffs, physical education activities and other community events to be held there.
Students started getting excited when FieldTurf , Bartholomew said. But it's been a long time coming -- it's been discussed throughout the coach's five years in Oak Creek and about another five years before that.
"There's differing opinions about it," he said. "But I think the school board did the right thing moving forward and I think it's going to be a positive."