To the delight of student athletes and their parents, workers began replacing the artificial turf on Grant High School’s football field this week, even though Portland Parks & Recreation and Portland Public Schools don’t have a deal on who will control the property. PPS, which is negotiating a long-term lease from the parks bureau, is paying for the $1.5 million renovations.
Grant parents have been lobbying for PPS to take control since August, when the parks bureau closed the field just days before the fall soccer and football seasons started. Deferred maintenance had left the field compacted, posing concussion risks.
“We’re thrilled to see the turf replacement work begin,” says Kim McGair, mother of a varsity girls soccer player and co-founder of the Grant Bowl Community Coalition. “We’re thankful to our community for speaking out and to PPS for acting with urgency. We appreciate Commissioner [Dan] Ryan meeting with us and agreeing to turn the Bowl over to PPS.”
Now, parents would like to see a formal lease signed, McGair says, so Grant can install lights and stands. It’s the only school of its size in the state where games must be played in daylight and spectators sit on grass berms.
Lease negotiations hit a snag late last month over a smaller field used for softball and baseball that is jointly owned by PPS and the parks bureau.
Commissioner Ryan, who oversees the parks bureau, wants to guarantee community access to the other field when it’s not being used by students, a spokesman says. The Grant Park Neighborhood Association has complained that PPS locks the field, keeping neighbors out even when it’s not in use by Grant teams.