Hockinson School District asking community why turf levy failed

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The Hockinson School District is trying to understand why the February vote to raise money to replace the high school’s primary athletic field with a synthetic turf failed.

A couple weeks back the district put out a nine-question online survey to residents that is still available to take, asking for their thoughts on the matter and why they voted down the levy. About 59 percent voted no in the election. District officials still believe something needs to be done with the field.

The field at Hockinson has a draining problem. It’s located adjacent to wetlands, has wet soil and doesn’t adequately handle the rainy climate. According to the district it is muddy most of the time and can be used for only 20-30 events per year. The district is often forced to rent outside facilities for practices and games, and is unable to host community clubs and events. 

Details of the levy proposal that was shot down include that it asked for $1.5 million split over six years (or $250,000 each year). The projected levy rates were 19 cents per $1,000 of assessed home value for 2018, 18 cents per $1,000 for 2019 and 2020, 17 cents per $1,000 for 2021 and 2022 and 16 cents per $1,000 for 2023. 

Raised tax rates, the idea that synthetic turf would cause more injuries or even cancer, and simply a preference for real grass instead were all among reasons people were against a new turf field. The district’s survey about the failed levy aims to get to the bottom of the issues and point the district in the right direction about what to do next. 

“The Hockinson School Board values your voice. This is the reason why we are seeking input and suggestions from the community that will help determine the best way to deal with the field,” district officials said about putting out the survey.

The survey was set to close last Friday, but the community’s deadline to voice opinions, concerns and desires has been extended to this Friday. District Communications Manager Sarah Coomber said she didn’t have exact numbers, but that “lots” of survey responses have been completed. She said the extension is to give everyone another extra chance to speak up. 

Once this Friday’s deadline passes, Coomber said the district would take another week or so to analyze the data before starting any new future planning regarding the field issue.

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