Field needs more green

An agreement for joint use of La Cañada High School's field, established between the La Cañada Unified School District, the Arroyo United Foundation and La Cañada High School Boosters Club, could be nullified because the parties have had difficulty meeting the financial obligations outlined in the joint-use contract.

The district entered an improvement agreement for the La Cañada High sports complex with the Arroyo United Foundation in June of 2003. Arroyo United installed a new artificial field and rubberized track in September of 2003, getting use of the facilities when they're unused by the district in return.

The LCHS Boosters joined both parties in a 14-year agreement in January of 2004. Both the Foundation and Boosters agreed to contribute a total of $120,000, which would go toward replacing the field in 2014 or 2015.

The school's field will need to be replaced within the next three to four years, said Mike Leininger, the district's assistant superintendent of facilities and operations. Black pellets from the artificial turf have begun appearing on the field's surface because the turf is being crushed down, Leininger said.

The estimated cost for replacing the artificial turf is $382,000, Leininger said. But Arroyo United and the Boosters Club have had difficulty meeting the financial obligations outlined in the contract, school board member Cindy Wilcox said.

In 2004, Arroyo United agreed to contribute a total of $120,000 (via a $16,000 contribution the first year of the agreement and $8,000 annually through 2018) and the LCHS Boosters agreed to contribute $75,000 (via a $10,000 payment the first year and $5,000 annually through 2018) to separate accounts by 2018. La Cañada Unified agreed to place all funds received for renting the field in an account that would be used for replacing the field. A total of $58,869 has been placed into that account, Leininger said.

Leininger said he's not certain how much Arroyo United and the Boosters have contributed toward replacing the field at this point.

"That's part of the research we're still doing. We're going back and looking at it," Leininger said. "It takes time to peel back all the layers of the onion."

Arroyo United is interested in adjusting the contract, now that they're no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of soccer and don't have as much need for the field, Leininger said.

"The boosters are also interested in adjusting the contract so that they don't have that yearly encumbrance and could put their money to other places versus the field," Leininger said.

La Cañada High School Boosters President Bill Boyd, said he thinks nullifying the contract would be a good thing for all three parties. It allows the district to pursue other options for use of the field and frees up money for both parties.

The Boosters are interested in sending money to other LCHS programs, at the guidance of LCHS' principals.

"We'd rather have the principals use the money where it's most needed," Boyd said.

The Boosters Club plans on catching up on its payments if the contract is terminated, Boyd said. A total of $35,000 would have been contributed if the Boosters were current on its annual payments. Arroyo United would have contributed $56,000 to this point.

La Cañada Unified is contemplating termination of its contract with Arroyo United and the Boosters Club and looking other funding options. The district is still determining what financial obligations both parties should be held to if the agreement is nullified, Leininger said.

"Our goal would be to maximize the use of the facility financially," Leininger said. "It would be ideal to get a person in there who uses the field most of the time when we aren't. We'll just have to wait and see how it goes."

La Cañada Unified is going to gauge the interest of the La Cañada Flintridge City Council in entering a joint-use agreement for the football field. A joint-use meeting between the city and district is scheduled for Jan. 27 at 8:30 a.m. in city hall.

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