The Nashville Community High School Board heard two proposals for reconditioning the NCHS football field at their regular monthly meeting held on Monday, March 20. While the proposals did differ significantly, both plans acknowledged the current poor condition of the field. Work to aerate, reseed and recondition the field will begin, hopefully in time to return it to tip-top shape by the time the Hornets take to the field again in the fall.
By Alex Haglund
The Nashville Hornets football field will get a much needed facelift as the NCHS School Board accepted a proposal by Coach Tim Kuhn to redo the playing surface. The proposal by Kuhn was one of two proposals that was considered by the board. The other proposal was introduced by former NCHS football coach and Little Hornets Football program head Matt Gajewski.
While the proposals brought to the board by Kuhn and Gajewski differed significantly, the one thing both Kuhn and Gajewski had in common was the belief that the field was currently in very poor shape and was in need of care.
Before any of the meeting’s items or regular business had even been approached, Butch Gogolek spoke to the board and emphasized his support for and belief that decisions regarding the school’s facilities should be decided by school personnel.
“I have been told by more than one person employed by the High School that certain outside interests are trying to influence decisions that only qualified school personnel should be making,” said Gogolek. “The athletic director at this school, not a board member or others outside the school, should determine when an athletic field or other part of the high school campus can be used. You as a high school board should be making decisions based on what would be best for the high school students – this means academically, and athletically.”
After handling other items of business, the board heard the proposals for the field, beginning with Gajewski’s.
Gajewski began by stating that the grass in the field currently, a bermuda grass, was planted in 2006 when he was the coach and said that for it to be able flourish, it would have needed to have been mowed very tightly, and that since 2011, the mower has not been used as it should have, and things have gotten out of hand, with brown and yellow spots and weeds resulting from this.
The plan put forth by Gajewski was to completely resod the field, this time with fescue instead of Bermuda, which they would kill off immediately, either by tilling it up while it was still dormant, or by spraying it once it was active in the warmer months.
This proposal would cost $13,440 for the sod, or about $2.10 per square yard. The cost would be nearly doubled with labor, but Gajewski stated that the Little Hornets would install the field, under his supervision, eliminating the labor costs.
Further, Gajewski pledged a $6,000 donation from the Little Hornets program towards the project, which would bring the estimated cost to the district down to $7,440.
Kuhn was up next, stating, “thank you for allowing me to speak on what I feel should be an in-house issue.”
Kuhn stated that in the fall of 2016, he had approached NCHS Superintendent Ernie Fowler and Athletic Director Wayne Harre and established a specialized activity fund for use specifically for the football field.
Similar to the proposal from Little Hornets Football, Kuhn said, “we are going away from bermuda,” with Kuhn stating that they would be utilizing a bluegrass and fescue blend.
The plan proposed by Kuhn was put together with the assistance of Jason Stroehlein, Clarence Bauza and Jeff Bohle, with labor being carried out by himself, coaches Wolf, Borowiak, Witte, and the NCHS Maintenance crew.
“We, the Nashville Hornets Football staff, would oversee the maintenance of the field,” Kuhn said.
One of the sticking points though, was that Kuhn’s plan would require the field to see very light use while the grass seeded was established, something that he stated has not happened in the past, due to use by other entities.
“We, as a program, other than Thursdays, hardly ever use that field,” Kuhn stated.
Since Gajewski’s plan would be resodding, rather than reseeding, the necessity for light use would not be as strict, but, Kuhn stated, “stripping the field, at this time, is not cost-effective.”
The cost for Kuhn’s plan would be approximately $5,000, for this season, but due to the fundraising done by the Hornets football program and donations that they have received, the cost to the district for the proposal would be nothing.
Board member Marsha Gajewski, Matt Gajewski’s mother, said, “What you’re proposing is just to overseed.,” stating that this had been done before and that it had not taken hold.
Kuhn stated that this was due to the fact that despite them stating that people needed to stay off the field after reseeding, this was advice was not followed, which was why it was not able to establish itself in the past.
“We are not a district with the luxury of a single use field,” board member John Hallock stated, then asking, “after it takes, would they still need to be kept off the field?”
“We’ll just have to wait and see,” Kuhn said.
While board members, including Sharon Ogrzewalla and Board President Shawn Cook, asked if there was more time to make the decision due to the amount of information being presented, both Gajewski and Kuhn stated that it was already later than it should be for the plans and even a few days could make a difference.
At this point, the board briefly went into executive session to discuss the matter. Superintendent Fowler then said that he told the board the issue was not eligible to be discussed in closed session, and they quickly returned to open session where more discussion occurred.
Following this, Gajewski elected to withdraw his proposal, and the board voted to approve the proposal put forth by Kuhn.