Mitchell: Planning stages at Grand Valley High, school district look promising |

Mitchell: Planning stages at Grand Valley High, school district look promising

Jon Mitchell
Citizen Telegram Sports Editor
Jon Mitchell

Grand Valley High School is undergoing some upgrades to its athletic facilities.

Real big upgrades. Much-needed upgrades.

In fact, by the time that everything is finished, a lot of schools in Garfield County and beyond might be looking at Grand Valley High School as an example for what their athletic facilities need to look like.

Thanks to a mill levy and bond extension that voters in Parachute and Battlement Mesa passed this past November, those much-needed improvements will go toward not only the athletic facilities inside of Grand Valley High School, but to the football field and track at Toby LeBorgne Stadium.

What’s on tap potentially? A lot.

Grand Valley Athletic Director and Assistant Principal David Walck said on Wednesday morning that the school is in the initial stages of making these improvements to the high school’s athletic facilities. Granted, there are already infrastructure-improvement projects at the Grand Valley Center for Family Learning and Bea Underwood Elementary taking place right now as part of the project that Garfield School District 16 is heading up. But part of that project includes the installation of FieldTurf on the football field and the replacement of the facility’s track.

All total, Walck said the cost of the project for the stadium is estimated to be around $1.2 million. He also said that if everything falls into place, all of the renovations at the stadium could be completed in time for the 2016 spring sports season.

“I don’t know that we’re necessarily setting a trend,” Walck said. “I think that we’re just filling a need for our school, and we’re able to do that thanks to the community.”

The bond extension will also pay for some security and infrastructure upgrades as well new curriculum resources like textbooks and software. Together, the two items represent a property-tax increase of about 66 cents for a $100,000 home, according to Garfield 16 Superintendent Ken Haptonstall.

To reiterate, the planning stages of the project are in the very initial stages. Walck said he’s been in contact with school officials from District 51 in Grand Junction and other school districts in Denver just to gather more information about everything that comes with installing FieldTurf.

The after-cost benefit would be substantial. It would provide a safer and more durable facility that would be accessible to residents of Parachute and Battlement Mesa, not just high school students. It would also allow the school to host track meets, which would attract people from out of the area and bring in additional revenue to the community. That would be a steep upgrade to the current track, which had only the inside two lanes open since much of the outside of the track surface has been breaking apart for quite a while now.

Plus, that’s not the only thing that the school is talking about adding as part of the project. Two things that will happen for sure is a revamped irrigation system at the stadium, which would make sense if there’s no grass to water once the FieldTurf surface goes in. The other is the installation of air conditioning inside of the school’s gym, affectionately known as The Nest.

To put it plainly, that’s really cool.

There’s also talk of adding restrooms that would be part of the stadium itself, meaning that football, track or soccer fans wouldn’t have to go into the school for a potty break like they do now.

And to think that this is just one part of the project that’s taking place in Parachute.

“The main thing is that we want to do what’s best for the kids,” Walck said.

The district is making sure that happens, too. More meetings are scheduled to discuss how money will for sure be spent. But the initial perspectives are very encouraging, as it gives the community an facility it can be proud of while giving the athletic department a greater opportunity to be successful.

What more could a community want?

Jon Mitchell is the sports editor of The Citizen Telegram and the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. He can be reached at 970-384-9123.

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