Grass or turf?
That's the question Northern Lehigh School District faces as it ponders how much it wants to spend to upgrade the dismal condition of its stadium surface.
Superintendent Michael Michaels brought the matter to the school board's attention on Monday after he said he acted on a request by board President Edward Hartman to investigate the situation.
"I'm concerned about the surface of the playing field," Michaels said. "Various referees have been complaining that the field is in very poor condition."
Michaels said he envisioned a stadium not only to be used to play football, but for the entire community to be able to utilize. Field hockey, boys and girls soccer, the band, and the Northern Lehigh Youth Athletic Association could use it as well, he said.
"I don't know what kind of surface, but we can't do nothing," he said. "Liability wise, we have to do something; drainage is a big issue."
Michaels said one option is to upgrade the stadium surface with natural grass, which would cost about $400,000. There would be an additional cost of $299,000 for turf, which would result in a total cost of about $699,000, he said.
"We want to be partners with our community," he said. "It's a lot of money, and I just want to make it clear that it's not this versus education; we're going to have to put money into that stadium to make it safe."
Hartman said he believes it's a good idea.
"We're doing it for the kids, not only for today, but the kids of tomorrow," Hartman said. "If we're going to do it, let's do it right."
Director Gregory Williams said he would like to see both options - natural grass versus field turf - laid out for comparison purposes.
However, Director Natalie Green said she was concerned with the cost.
"If we're going to spend $400,000 for grass, how many years is the grass guaranteed for?"
Director Donna Kulp said she believes the board needs to take some action.
"I just think we owe it to our kids," Kulp said. "Like (Michaels) said, we need to do something."