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Lobbying continues for turf field project

The Airdrie Field Turf Society (AFTS) has jumped over a bureaucratic hurdle in its plans to bring the first artificial-turf field to the city.

After presenting to the Rocky View Schools (RVS) Board of Trustees, AFTS received a letter of support from the school district May 16. The letter backs the society’s efforts to continue fundraising for the natural-grass field at Ed Eggerer Athletic Park to be converted to an artificial-turf field.

Chris Glass, a director with AFTS, said Ed Eggerer Athletic Park, located on the north side of Genesis Place Recreation Centre, makes the most sense for the location of the new turf field – but added, the decision lies with the City of Airdrie, which co-owns the field alongside RVS, in a joint-use and maintenance agreement.

“For me, [Ed Eggerer Athletic Park] makes a lot of sense because we already have the stands, the change rooms and the scoreboard there,” said Glass, who also coaches the George McDougall Mustangs football team and is an assistant coach with the Airdrie Raiders bantam and midget teams.

“But really, we have to see where it fits in with the long-term planning of the City. If the City has another location planned, and they think it’s the best way to go, they’re ultimately going to be the ones who make the decision on that.”

As of May 21, Glass said, AFTS has raised about $38,000 towards the project, which he said could cost up to $1 million. He said the money raised thus far came from AFTS’s March 23 fundraiser, featuring the Dueling Pianos.

Glass said AFTS is planning another fundraiser for October, but added the society’s current focus is planning and securing approval from the City and school district.

“Right now, when it comes to fundraising, it’s a little tough to go out to people we would consider large donors without a concrete plan in place,” he said. “Until we have a concrete message from the City on where they want this to be built and whether [it] supports it, we have to hold off on the big fundraising [initiatives].”

While AFTS directors initially hoped the field would be game-ready by September 2020, Glass admitted that might be an overly-ambitious target. He said 2021 now appears the more likely date of completion.

“In order to complete this project, we’re going to need to have a feasibility study done, and that’s going to take probably four months [from] City council approving it to it actually being completed,” he said. “Which puts us in a pretty tough spot when it comes to breaking ground, because that puts us in the middle of our coldest months.”

Glass said the next step for the society is to request a feasibility study from the City of Airdrie. He said AFTS will present at the July 8 Community Services Advisory Board meeting. If that is successful, he said the group will go in front of Airdrie City council Aug. 19.

Glass said he hopes athletes from Airdrie football teams and other sports will come to those meetings while wearing their respective team jerseys, as a show of support for the field turf project.

“[We] can really show our city council this is something our city wants to get behind and is something we can work together to achieve,” he said.
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