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Muirlands field project to start soon

An effort to raise $1.1 million to construct a new, synthetic turf field at Muirlands Middle School to serve a multisports complex to include La Jolla High has succeeded.

“We have obtained sufficient funding to proceed with the major aspect of the project - the synthetic field turf - which we are moving forward with immediately,” said Howard Frank, chairman of the “Turf It” Committee. “But for the entire project, to include a running surface around the perimeter of the field and a fitness area in its northwest corner, we still need about $75,000.”

Construction is scheduled to start in October and take about two months.

About 1,000 Muirlands Middle School students use the field daily for PE and intramural sports. The facility is also home to overflow from La Jolla High School’s athletic program, including baseball, junior varsity football, field hockey and soccer. Besides students, the field is also open for community use, including youth athletic programs and family events.

Muirlands Principal Chris Hargrave said her physical education staff is very appreciative and looking forward to finally having a safe, risk-free playing field.

With insufficient facilities at the high school to accommodate all of the school’s athletic teams, Principal Dana Shelburne has said high school sports teams will put the new field to good use.

Last week, both principals announced the unanimous vote of the five-member school board on Sept. 8 approving the agreement between the school district and the Muirlands Foundation for the installation of synthetic turf on the athletic field at the middle school.

Frank said Turf It was launched originally because of the Muirlands’ natural field’s poor condition.

“It was a combination of things all centered on the dangerous condition of that playing surface,” he said. “Kids were getting hurt in PE classes. It was just a dangerous environment.”

Frank added the field’s distressed state is a byproduct of overuse.

“When you have 1,100 kids using it every day in school and then athletic teams and the YMCA using it for after-school programs, and combine that with the school district having to cut back on maintenance and irrigation - you have a disaster.”

Special recognition is being given to La Jolla High alum Jeff Jacobs, a star basketball player for the Vikings who graduated in 1984, for his major contribution which brought the Turf It committee’s fundraising to more than $500,000. That resulted in the project receiving $500,000 in matching dollars from a state facilities fund.

Jacobs and wife Deni have been major benefactors on a number of school projects in recent years and are responsible for the completion of various significant improvements on both campuses including the high school main athletic field and lower field as well as the Brent Woodall varsity baseball clubhouse.

The Muirlands athletic field will be part of the Deni and Jeff Jacobs Athletic Complex.

Frank said there’s plenty of praise to go around for bringing the sports redevelopment project to fruition.

“We started this project almost three years ago and we are absolutely thrilled with what we have accomplished, " he said. “I have been involved in a number of projects at our schools but have never been associated with such dedicated, hard working folks as those on the Turf It Committee.”