The new artificial turf field at Pawnee Park's Memorial Stadium will be ready to go just in time for prep football and soccer seasons.
City officials, including City Administrator Tara Vasicek, Public Property Director Doug Moore, Parks and Recreation Director Betsy Eckhardt and City Engineer Rick Bogus, on Monday morning walked through the field to get a final look as crews handled the finishing touches.
“I love it. You can definitely tell a difference when you’re walking on it,” Eckhardt said. “It’s going to be an awesome addition.”
The previous artificial turf on the field had gotten more than its fair share of use. Moore said the City was told it would last eight years, but the government agency ended up getting 11 years of use out of it.
Using sales tax revenue, the City was able to hire Nemaha Sports Construction, a company based out of Lincoln that has completed hundreds of projects on the high school, collegiate and municipal levels. With the City’s approval, Nemaha contracted Midwest Synthetic Turf Professionals to handle the installation of the new field.
Turf replacement began July 10th, though Mother Nature’s onslaught of rain the last few weeks slowed down the process a bit. On Monday, the field was in great shape with all the proper football and soccer markings gleaming. Work is expected to be completely finished this week.
Moore said the field replacement cost approximately $416,000, though the project as a whole cost a little more than $500,000 when factoring in engineering and other associated expenses. The City recently applied for a grant from the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy for approximately $104,000 to help fund the field replacement. It will learn if it will receive that grant in December 2023, he noted.
The multipurpose field will come in handy for Columbus High and Scotus Central Catholic high schools’ football and soccer teams (Lakeview does not play its home games there). The track will be open for public use, though officials ask residents to stay off the turf field to preserve it for organized activities.
Moore was undoubtedly happy as he walked over the new field, noting how it would be put to good use by the community for years to come.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Moore said.
NOTE TO READERS: "Your Tax Dollars At Work” is a new ongoing series exploring how sales tax revenue helps the City of Columbus fund a variety of services, programs and projects to benefit the community at large. You can find previous installments on the City's website.