By Pat Maurer
Just over a month ago in late November, a committee was formed to look into renovations to Clare School’s aging 30 year-old Brookwood Athletic Complex.
The Pioneers are Leaders Committee have developed and are beginning fundraising efforts for the Brookwood 2.0 Project, a community driven plan to “restore, renovate and update the Brookwood Complex to one of the top athletic complexes in the State.”
According to information released December 29, the first priority for the committee, numbering approximately 20 community members, is to replace the grass in the football field with artificial turf.
The grass on the present field is 15 years past the recommended replacement time and maintenance on the field costs between $8,000 and $10,000 per year. Replacing the grass would cost between $175,000 and $225,000 according to the release from the newly formed committee.
Committee Chair John Punches said the field is presently used by 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grade youth teams; by 7th and 8th grade Rocket Football teams; by Varsity football players and potentially by a JV football team. This can mean up to eight games a weekend when the seasons overlap. When multiple games and bad weather combine, it takes a big toll on the surface of the field. Punches wrote, “This caused problems this past fall when seven games were played in a three-day period and it also rained for four days. The remainder of the regular Varsity season and for the playoffs, varsity parents placed tarps over parts of the field to keep it playable.”
Replacing the grass with artificial turf would be expensive, Punches said. “A turf field does have a big cost, estimated at $650,000. Half would be for the ground work and half is for the cost of the turf.”
Once it is installed though, upkeep is as little as a tenth of what it costs now. Maintenance would only involve “raking” the surface every four to six weeks with specialized equipment that costs about $2,000 to purchase. The turf would have a warranty of twelve years and a life of 12 to 15 years.
Updating the playing field to artificial turf would allow its use by more athletic teams and for more events. “This would include Clare High School Soccer and football and could be expanded to include other events and teams.”
Other goals for the group are to restore and update the track by resurfacing it so it can be used for Clare events and State-wide events too; and to renovate the bleachers to provide safe seating, handicapped seating and enough seating for State tournaments and other large sporting events.
The release said, “The committee ‘Pioneers are Leaders’ was formed because the community of Clare has always shown a willingness to do what is best for our kids. The original Brookwood Athletic Complex shows that Clare has been willing to set big goals and reach them. When Brookwood was built it was truly one of the best in the State at the time. Hopefully in the future it will be again.”
This year’s goal is to replace the field, but the money will have to be raised in a very short time to install the field in the spring. The committee is selling bracelets, a fundraiser developed by Barb Tyler. Donors can also purchase a square yard of turf or become a sponsor.
“We know the times are tough right now,” Punches said, “but the original Brookwood Project was done in the late 1970s, in times as difficult as now or maybe even tougher. Carter was president, home mortgage rates were over 9 percent, inflation was as high as 11.2 percent, unemployment was over 7 percent and there was a gas shortage.”
He continued, “In spite of all that, the community decided to develop one of the top athletic complexes in the state. With much effort, time and money, it was completed and our kids had a safe environment to compete in. But now, over 30 years later, it needs to be renovated and improved back to the original dream and to be one of the top complexes again. We need to be Pioneers again and Pioneers are Leaders.”
To be a part of the fundraising effort, contact any committee member, email the pioneersareleaders@gmail account; Call John Punches at 989-429-6734; Doniel Pummell at 989-386-9945 or Scott Moore at 989-386-4500. Bracelets will be available at the school and at most school events. Brochures will be available around town.