PORT ANGELES — A light dusting of white crunchy frost covered Monroe Playfield’s turf when about 125 people gathered for a ribbon cutting at the Port Angeles School District’s new athletic facility.
“This was a long time coming for our district and well worth it,” Superintendent Marty Brewer said Saturday morning. “In 2007, the board established a strategic plan of what to do with this place, and that was establish a playfield on the east side of town. Our community stood up and said our students deserve this.”
The new facility is on the site of the former Monroe Elementary School, which closed in 2004 and was demolished in 2017.
Board President Sarah Methner said local soccer players will no longer have to ask themselves why they can’t play on the kind of fields they see when they travel for games and tournaments across the state.
“Thank you for trusting us with spending your money wisely, so now every kid can come out here to play,” Methner said.
The $1.58 million facility was funded with proceeds from the sale of the district’s old administration building and property on Mount Pleasant. A recent windfall of timber dollars meant the district did not have to dip into capital levy funds to complete the project.
The multi-purpose field can support soccer, fastpitch softball and football. Heavy duty shock pads under the turf create a uniform playing surface, provide shock absorbency to help reduce injuries and contribute to effective drainage, the district said.
Field lines are sewn directly into the turf — not painted — so the district will not have to restripe it as it does Civic Field, nor mow it, or constantly deal with pooling water, mud and divots.
Monroe Playfield also can be used continuously 12 months of the year. The turf installed by Oregon-based Field Turf USA will handle any and all repairs for the next eight years, said Nolan Duce, director of maintenance and facilities.
Aluminum bleachers that will seat about 350 people are scheduled to be installed by the end of the year; a berm on the east side of the field and a rise on the west side can accommodate spectators as well.
Conduit and infrastructure for lighting, a concession stand and restrooms were installed during construction with the goal of adding those amenities when the district can obtain grant funding.
In the meantime, a restroom in the portable to the north of the field and temporary toilets are available to use.
Also planned are a scoreboard and a sign with the name of the facility.
The district has emphasized that Monroe Playfield is a community asset — not simply a place for students to play sports.
The ADA-accessible paved path around the field was included in the project to encourage people to exercise and the field will be open to the public when no games or practices are taking place (five laps on the path equal 1 1/2 miles). Benches and picnic tables will be installed by the path.
Originally put out to bid in March 2022, the project generated only one bidder that was about 15 percent over the district’s budget. The district decided to divide the project into two packages: one for the ground work and the other for turf installation.
“It’s great to be able to work on these legacy projects,” said Sean Coleman of Bruch and Bruch Construction, which won the bid for the ground work. “One hundred percent of the contractors were local.”
It didn’t take long for Monroe Playfield to see sports action. Immediately after the on-field ceremony ended, the first of four youth soccer games scheduled for that day began. And this week, the Port Angeles High School football team will practice there in preparation for its playoff game Friday night on turf at Franklin Pierce High School.