PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – People in the Grant neighborhood are calling on Portland Public Schools to take over a local field from Portland Parks and Recreation after the location failed to pass a safety test.
The complaint comes after PP&R announced that Grant High student athletes could no longer use the Grant Bowl – one day before their football team resumed practice.
Department officials say the field has reached the end of its life, as it was built in 2013 and turf fields typically last 8-10 years.
PPS spent $3,500 to add rubber to the field in an effort to make it safe once more for student athletes, but when that didn’t work, the field failed the test. The results revealed that the Grant Bowl didn’t have enough cushion for sports.
That means Grant High’s football teams are practicing later – JV runs as late as 8:30 p.m. – and its soccer team has had to take buses to other fields in Portland.
“Now kids are having to go to Marshall [High School]. They are going to leave class earlier. They’re going to be home much later,” said Stephanie Antipov, the president of Friends of Grant Football. “We’re really concerned with the teachers and student athletes and their classroom time.”
The field’s closure is the latest of $600 million of issues across Portland’s many parks, according to PP&R, leaving the department without the money necessary to replace its turf. And even if they did, PPS says it typically takes up to nine months for that project to be completed.
That’s why Antipov is hoping the school district will take over the field. A survey she sent out to the community has received more than 900 responses – nearly all of them in support of PP&R giving up management.
“The community is really behind this goal of having PPS manage the operations of this field,” she said.
In the meantime, bussing students and other costs related to the lack of a field will cost PPS around $50,000 this fall. PPS also has a master plan to replace the field, add bleachers and more.
“We’re at the table trying to figure out what’s best moving forward – whether that’s for the park bureau, PPS and the Grant community,” said PPS’ Senior Director of Athletics Marshall Haskins.
KOIN 6 reached out to PP&R, but officials say no one in the department was available for an interview.
Commissioner Dan Ryan, who leads the park bureau, said he’s meeting on Monday to find a solution.
“The maintenance backlog of our parks requires Portland Parks and Recreation to think differently and plan appropriately to mitigate cases like Grant park, and that plan is currently being built,” he said.