To cheers Tuesday night, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District approved the first step toward a long-term relationship with the city of Costa Mesa that could produce a new track and field at Costa Mesa High School.
More than a dozen football team players, boosters, coaches and parents delighted in watching the school board unanimously approve assigning a study that would lay groundwork for a agreement between the city and school district to share the proposed facility.
One week earlier, Costa Mesa's City Council voted to hand over $15,000 to fund that study.
City officials plan to fund design and construction of the all-weather, lighted field and split maintenance costs with the district in exchange for public use during nonschool hours.
With the school board's OK, a consultant will now explore the costs, design possibilities, environmental concerns, state requirements and educational effects of the project.
"I think the memorandum of understanding sets forth the questions that need to be answered," Deputy Supt. Paul Reed said, recommending the board sign on.
Before the vote, Mesa football player Adam JeyaRajah reminded trustees why the school is asking for the facility.
"As an athlete at Costa Mesa High School, I have practiced at this field quite often. I've seen everything from shin splints to rolled ankles," he said.
He along with Principal Phil D'Agostino said they're excited to see the collaboration begin.
D'Agostino said he's had many informal discussions about the field with city and school officials, but now that proponents have brought the two governmental bodies together, the process has officially begun.
"I think everyone wants to make sure all their T's are crossed and their I's are dotted," he said.
Board members' nod on the agreement also sets a timeline for the project.
The feasibility study must be commissioned within 60 days of receiving the $15,000 and be presented to the board not more than three months later.
By six months after that, the district and city have to hear public input and begin working on the facility's design, funding and use.
Costa Mesa has already set aside $300,000 for the design, and city officials hope to fund the rest of the $3 million to $4 million project as well.
"It's our hope that with the continued support and your speedy assistance, that Costa Mesa High School can finally get a safe field that student athletes deserve," football booster president Scotty Stevens told the school board.