EAGLE POINT — The City Council has joined the team that's installed an artificial turf field at the high school by contributing $10,000 to the project.
The Eagle Point Booster Club came to the council this week still needing to raise $60,000 to pay for the field that's already installed.
Donations to the artificial turf project may be made to the Eagle Point Booster Club, P.O. Box 1366, Eagle Point, OR 97524. More information is available online at www.eaglepointboosters.com.
"This shows our faith in the school district and what they're doing," said Mayor Bob Russell, "and our commitment to our residents and the kids who will be playing there."
Last spring, after receiving a $700,000 grant from the Community Sports Development Council, a nonprofit organization that supports the development of sports fields and community sports centers, the boosters began construction on the $1.2 million field they call "our students' field of dreams."
Ted Dole, spokesman for the boosters, said the grant required the field to be finished in 2012 and the community to raise the remainder of the cost.
"We've had amazing support under the circumstances of the current economy," Dole said. "We've raised about $420,000, but we're still in a stage where we need more funding."
In a 10-year agreement with the Eagle Point School District, the boosters gave the field to the district, but retain control of scheduling.
"The goal is to get the field used every day," Dole said, noting that even though the school has first rights to the field, "there's still a ton of time available."
"You don't realize it, but they just don't use it that much."
Council members said they hoped the field would be open more often for residents' use.
Councilman Jonathan Bilden, a member of the boosters and also the council's representative to District No. 9, said he has assurances from the district that "they want to work with us."
The field's formal dedication ceremonies were held Sept. 12. The first football games debuted on the field the previous Friday, when the Eagle's varsity squad drubbed Summit High School 34-7.
"Right now, there are 37 percent more kids participating in fall sports than there have been over the last five-year average," Dole said. "Nobody knows why, except perhaps for our field project."
"The whole idea has been to get more kids participating in sports at a younger age," he said. "That's why we had to get this done."
Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at email@example.com.