Tuesday morning work crews were busy applying waterproof sealant at Olympia High school's Ingersoll stadium. It's part of a $400,000 renovation that includes $140,000 to resurface the running track. The artificial turf was replaced in 2004 at a cost of one million dollars.
Historically the stadium has been left open before and after school hours so people can walk and play here, but school officials said costly vandalism is a serious problem and they are considering restricting access to the facility. "We want to obviously protect the community investment in the stadium," said Jeff Carpenter, the district's athletic director. Carpenter said the vandalism has become very frequent. "It's almost on a daily basis we get calls there's broken glass out there, there's drug paraphernalia out there."
School officials said transients have also been camping in the stadium stands and using the area near a snack bar as a restroom. There are also issues with motorcycles and bikes that have been used on the track damaging the surface. When KIRO-7 South Sound reporter Richard Thompson asked to see other damage, the athletic director pointed out small patches on the turf that had to be installed after people set off fireworks on the field. "It's about $2,500 to do a patch job," said Carpenter.
Olympia High junior Evan Munn and a friend were playing soccer in a grass field outside the stadium while the renovation work is completed. Munn said it would be a big disappointment if access to the facility was restricted. "That's a place I go and meet up with friends," Munn said. "It's a good place to meet up and play some Frisbee or some soccer."
Athletic Director Jeff Carpenter tells KIRO-7 one solution maybe to issue key cards to members of the public who want to use the stadium. Carpenter said it would continue to give the public access but with greater accountability.
The Olympia School District plans to conduct two public hearings at district headquarters to hear the public's opinions on addressing the issue. The meetings will be 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19. They will be held at the Knox Administrative Center, 1113 Legion Way SE, Olympia.