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It isn't dirt cheap to build a dirt soccer field

"Committing to the full cost of dirt for a playfield isn't something the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District commissioners are quite ready to do.Dirt isn't dirt cheap any more, especially when it's a special mix used to cover dirt soccer fields. In the Community Park expansion project along Langley Road, four new fields are being built. The fourth, a dirt field, was a late addition to the plan, and the commissioners aren't sure they'll have the money they need to buy the ideal amount of dirt to cover the field.Parks Director Jerry Cole told the commissioners Wednesday night that a dirt field ideally is covered by 4 to 5 inches of the special dirt mix. But at $8,800 per inch, only a limited amount may initially be affordable. His proposed budget includes a one-inch covering. That's a start, he said, adding that more could be purchased later until the 4 to 5 inch goal is reached.Youth soccer organizers urged the dirt field be built so South Whidbey youngsters can learn to compete on a surface that is very common on the mainland, where they play many of their games. The other three new fields will be grass.We need a dirt field. That dirt field is very important to us, said soccer organizer Linda Cotton. They'll get their field, it's only the amount of dirt that's in doubt.Commissioner Tara Barlean urged that no immediate commitment be made to any particular depth of dirt. Wait until the other bids come in, she said, hoping that other items might cost less than expected and allow the purchase of more soccer dirt.Commissioner Dave Haworth described the budget for the park expansion. There's no wiggle room, he said. We're going to have to prioritize. Whatever goes in, something else comes out.Dirt is a small portion of the overall project cost of $522,503. Cole submitted draft budget estimates that include such major items as: $60,000 to finish paying Krieg Construction for ground work now in progress; $15,000 to partially pave the parking lot; $33,000 for sand haulage and retainage; $82,000 for the water system; $60,000 for a restroom; $20,000 for irrigation; $35,000 for a septic system; $10,000 for bus pullouts along Langley Road that are required by Island County; $55,000 for landscaping and signage; $40,000 for a baseball field; and $45,000 for a mower.If any of the items cost less than expected, the savings could be applied to more dirt, the commissioners agreed.Including smaller expenses, the district expects to have $20,000 left for retainage after the expansion project is finished. The first soccer games on the new fields are expected to be played in 2002.Curt Gordon, board chairman, commended Cole for the budget but emphasized the numbers are just estimates. It was hard to get these numbers and we're not even sure about a lot of them, he said. But now that the budget is in place, it can be reviewed and adjusted monthly, he added.South Whidbey voters last April approved a $1.3 million bond sale to purchased the park expansion property and build new playfields and related facilities. "

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