GREENVILLE — The Friends of Harmon Field is hoping the Greenville community, as well as residents of Darke County, will “claim their turf,” as the group’s plan to renovate the school’s outdoor athletic facilities has reached a critical stage.
Members of the group were at Harmon Field Wednesday night, discussing the status of their plans and presenting ways people can help finance the project, which seeks to rebuild or renovate the high school’s outdated and deteriorating track, football field, stadium and field house.
The school’s track, the first phase of the project, is of the most immediate concern.
Greenville High School Track Coach Bill Plessinger, noting the track’s poor condition, and the fact it is only six lanes in comparison to the standard eight lanes, said the school’s track has become “a joke.”
“We have the worst facility in southwest Ohio,” he said. “We have the worst facility in Darke County. We have the worst track in the GWOC (Greater Western Ohio Conference). We are so far behind the times.”
Plessinger said the track’s half-inch running surface has worn down to one-eighth of an inch, and is non-existent on some parts of the track. He also pointed out his concerns for the safety of the athletes, as they are more prone to injury, such as shin splints, due to the hard surface.
According to Dave Ernst, in order to accommodate track and field competitions in the spring, construction of a new track facility to the north of the existing field will need to begin very soon.
“We have to have payment down before it gets below 40 degrees. So an estimate is, by October 15, we have to have eight lanes down,” he said. “We’re about $350,000-$400,000 away. We’ve got to get that done by the middle of September so we can break ground, get it compacted, get it leveled, and go.”
The Greenville Board of Education has earmarked $400,000 towards the project if Friends of Harmon Field can raise $1 million. Other large corporate donations collected so far include $10,000 from the Belichick Foundation, $15,000 from the Light Foundation, $15,000 from Whirlpool, $80,000 from Second National Bank, $9,000 from the City of Greenville, and a $250,000 grant from the State of Ohio.
Committee members say one way in which individuals in the community can help is by buying a piece of Harmon Field. Donors may purchase a square yard of Harmon Field’s turf for $100, becoming “honorary deed holders” for that square yard.
“There’s 9,200 yards of field turf. That’s $920,000. We don’t need that much, but that’s how much is out there,” Ernst said. “You may not be able to see exactly where it’s at on the field, but you’re going to know ‘I got a yard of turf.’”
Ernst said he hopes the community looks at the Harmon Field project much as it did when Greenville City Schools asked for the new K-8 school building.
“Greenville’s proud of what we’re building out there for the K-8 facility, and the community said ‘Hey, you know what, the kids deserve that, they need the best that we can give them,’” he said. “It took 10 years to get that passed, but finally, the community said ‘Hey, we’re behind it, let’s get it done, we’re proud of that.’ I don’t think there’s anybody that can say that they’re proud of this facility.”
For more information on the project or how to donate, visit www.friendsofharmonfield.com.