A Field of Dreams

For many years, a modern, state of the art track and field was just a dream for the athletic youth of our City. Fillmore High School, the site of both the new and old facilities, was rated as the worst athletic facility in the County, in part due to the poor condition of the football field from over usage. Last year, CIF officials gave two visiting teams the option of having Fillmore forfeit their games rather than play on the badly degraded turf. The dream became a reality in April of this year when work commenced on a new field that boasts artificial turf manufactured with the latest anti-microbial materials, all weather track, new, improved lighting, extensive drainage system, refurbished sound system, landscaping and thanks to the Fillmore Lions Club, a brand new scoreboard!

Although still in need of some final touches, including correction of blemishes on the track surfaces and lane line painting (scheduled for early 2009 in between football and soccer season), the facility opened to an ecstatic staff and student body in early August. However, by August 19, due to the high cost of repairs from inappropriate use, vandalism and trespassing, the Board of Education felt compelled to limit field use to the Fillmore Unified School District and for Community Facility Permit access only. Organizations that wish to use the facility must apply in advance, pay a permit fee and show the appropriate insurance naming the School District as “additional insured”. Furthermore, a District staff member will provide on-site supervision at every function. Costs are $125 per hour for non-profit organizations and $300 per hour for semi-pro use, similar to Ventura College, Ventura and Conejo School District rates. There is an additional $95 charge for lights. Previously negotiated season rates will remain in effect throughout their current seasons. Total income this year from permitting fees was not available in time for printing. There is no charge for school related activities day or night, however if nighttime electricity use becomes too costly, it might become necessary to address scheduling changes. Operating costs are paid by the FUSD through the General Fund.

Destructive incidents have decreased with limited access, however, gum and stroller wheel marks have been found on the track as well as sunflower seeds in the artificial turf, presenting maintenance and health issues. The track and field requires maintenance in a similar fashion as carpet with every incident. Trespassing is still an issue. However, a sub group of the FUSD and the City Council are meeting to explore options of creating track venues with open access. Suggestions have included installing a crushed brick track at the Middle School and/or a longer path at the new park.

The total cost of the dream field and track was $2,600,000. Those funds were assembled from several sources including the sale of the pool property to the City, a General Obligation bond, Redevelopment funds, State grants and a California Integrated Waste Management Board grant, realized from the use of recycled rubber in the composition of the field. Maintenance costs are expected to decrease due to savings in water usage, however lighting costs are predicted to increase. It will take a few more months before Dr. Michael Bush, Assistant Superintendent of Business (FUSD) and coordinator of the project, can make a definite determination. Nevertheless, coaches, physical education teachers, students, various local teams, community members and spectators are extremely pleased with the new facility. Visiting opposing teams have also been very complimentary.

The new track and field maintain a very busy schedule, days, evenings and weekends, accommodating High School Physical Education classes; six Soccer teams; Cross Country and Youth, JV and Varsity Football practice and games. The facility is also the first legally recognized regulation size Soccer field in Fillmore.

To date, Phase 2 funding for the track and field project is non-existent. Plans to add a new bleacher section for the visitors team at the West end of the field, paving the parking lot and dirt areas behind the existing bleachers are estimated to cost $1,000,000. These funds will surely be difficult to come by in economically uncertain times. Nevertheless, most of the dream for a modern, state of the art track and field has become reality. Now, Fillmore’s children can pursue their dreams of athletic accomplishment upon it.