State

Turlock board approves stadium contract

TURLOCK — A standing ovation greeted the Turlock Unified School District board after members approved a construction agreement for a new track and field at Joe Debely Stadium.

The good vibe carried through the evening as opponents to the project struck a conciliatory tone, a contrast to recent tumult that resulted in a lawsuit against the district and the city.

Lynn Sarraille, one of the plaintiffs, thanked the board for listening to neighbors' concerns and Deputy Superintendent Ed Felt for in- corporating some of them into proposed rules for using the facility. That includes creating a Web page that will include rules and contact information, direction to park on lots inside the campus and regulating noise.

"I'm happier, thank you," Sarraille told the board. "I appreciate very, very much that some of the concerns we've had have been incorporated already."

Sarraille said after the meeting she still has a few areas she hopes to address, especially that the district set a decibel level consistent with other facilities. But she said her group has been working with Felt and he has been open to its suggestions.

A judge Tuesday morning denied a request from the plaintiffs, the Turlock Citizens Coalition, to prohibit the district from moving ahead with construction.

The school board did just that Tuesday night, approving a contract with an El Dorado Hills company, which plans to start work April 5.

The field will use a substance called Ecofill rather than recycled tires, as some synthetic fields use, Felt said. The green plastic granules don't get as hot as do tires, meaning the field will be up to 25 degrees cooler than others on a hot day.

One thing missing from the track and field will be any kind of logo. Both Turlock and Pitman high schools use the stadium for their home games, and going sans logo will save money.

Besides, Felt said, "Logos at most schools have become targets of vandals. We decided to go with a real clean field designed for performance and spectator enjoyment."

Also Tuesday night, the board held public hearings on initial proposals to and from its employee unions and passed them, opening the way for negotiations to begin.

Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at pguerra@modbee.com or 578-2343.

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