SEASIDE — Monterey Peninsula Unified School District PK Diffenbaugh said he’s hopeful construction on the Seaside High sports complex will be completed in time for sports played in what is now being called Season 1 of the school year.
In addition to the artificial turf field, the $8 million project will include the installation of a new eight-lane, all-weather track to go with other new track and field features, a new scoreboard and LED lights. The completion of the project would leave Gonzales High as the only Monterey County high school without an all-weather track.
“It’s really going to be a state-of-the-art field, not just for football,” Diffenbaugh said. “We’re really excited about it.”
After the California Interscholastic Federation announced that the fall sports season is being delayed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, its Central Coast Section followed suit. Monterey County high school sports teams like those at Seaside High will be permitted to start practice for sports normally played in the fall like football Dec. 14, with the start of football games slated for Jan. 8. Diffenbaugh said he believes the project should be completed by November, if not earlier.
“We want to get it in so hopefully by the winter and spring when the CIF said sports can come back, that it will be ready for the students,” he said. “That’s our goal.”
Sports normally played in the winter season, like soccer and basketball, and those that normally are played in the spring, like baseball and track and field, will be part of the section’s Season 2. Soccer will start practicing Feb. 22 with competitions beginning March 8. Track and field will start practice March 15 with meets allowed to start March 29.
MPUSD will start the school year with distance learning, along with the other districts in Monterey County. The district hopes to have students return to campus for class two days a week in October and full time by January.
“I think for our kids it will be a really exciting time,” Diffenbaugh said. “Not only to come back to school physically but to come back to a whole new athletic complex is going to be something that they’re going to cherish and they deserve it.”
The Seaside High football team is slated to open the season at Santa Cruz High, with its first home game scheduled for Week 2 against Monterey High in the Battle of the Bay. Seaside High went 9-1 in the regular season, gaining a share of the Mission Division title on the final week of the season with an overtime win over Monte Vista Christian, before a playoff loss to Terra Nova High of Pacifica.
New sod was installed at the field in the summer of 2018. Diffenbaugh said that was done because Measure I funds weren’t yet available to get the project now underway completed at the time and the field had become a safety issue.
“The challenge with grass is it really gets eaten up and we have a gopher issue on the Central Coast and that was a challenge too,” he said. “In the long run, (artificial turf) will keep the field in better condition and safer over a long period of time.”
Diffenbaugh sees the athletics project as just a part of the bigger renovation of the 57-year-old Seaside High campus that’s been taking place in recent years thanks to Measure P and Measure I. Some of the most recent work includes 18 old portables being replaced with new state-of-the-art classrooms, the redesigned library maker space, new plumbing for the pool, a project to fortify failing concrete around campus and a new paint job.
“It’s been a lot of work at Seaside and we will invite the community to come out when we’re past the social distancing to see how it’s really like a brand-new school,” Diffenbaugh said.
Monterey High athletics project
The district is awaiting completion of an environmental impact report, at a cost of about $250,000, on its Monterey High School Stadium project. The $10 million project will include permanent lights, a new press box, additional bleachers, a new softball and multi-use synthetic field, a 2,400-square-foot weight room/team room building and a track and field event area.
The district had originally planned a more limited mitigated negative declaration for the project but decided to go with a more comprehensive environmental impact report following criticism from residents near the school and the threat of a lawsuit.
“We’re still waiting on the draft report to be completed,” Diffenbaugh said. “Once it’s completed, then it’s released to the public for public comment and then ultimately brought back to the board in a final form.”
Diffenbaugh said he hopes the report will be completed in the next few months.
Author: ” — www.montereyherald.com ”