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Turf Field, New Track To Be Installed by Fall

Diamond Campaign raises $1.7 million to upgrade Lake Forest High School's east campus athletic facility.

‘s storied tradition of playing its field hockey games on the school’s front lawn area may give way to a new tradition this fall.

The Diamond Anniversary campaign, begun in October 2011 by the Lake Forest Booster Club to raise funds to replace and upgrade the athletic facilities at the high school’s east campus, will donate $1.7 million to  to install a turf field and replace the eight-lane outdoor track. The district was facing a $1.6 million price tag to replace the track and raze and replace the rundown bleachers and storage structures at Lindenmeyer Field.

The Board of Education recently approved the funds; the construction bidding process is under way and should be finalized within the next few weeks. The approval of the booster gift is contingent on acceptance of final bids and execution of a memorandum of understanding between the district and the boosters. The first shovel could go into the ground later this month.

 ”The Booster Club has demonstrated an outstanding history of innovative leadership in supporting student athletes and their activities at Lake Forest High School. This partnership carries on that tradition,” said Superintendent Harry Griffith.

The turf field and track could be available for use in September pending the construction timetable and any delays during the construction phase, according to Brian Vandenberg, co-chair of the Diamond Anniversary Campaign.

The $1.7 million fell short of the proposed $2.5 million goal. It still represented the largest gift to the school in its 75-year history and one of the largest single gifts by any booster organization to a public high school in the state of Illinois, according to Ellen Funk, president of the Lake Forest Booster Club and co-chair of the Diamond Anniversary Campaign.

Vandenberg was happy with the six-month campaign.

“It was an ambitious goal,” he said. “The perfect plan would be to do everything we wanted. But I know that perfection is the enemy of good. I think what we’re doing is pretty good. I’m happy with it. We maintain the flexibility to add additional phases.”

The $1.7 million gift will be paid to over multiple years, since the terms of donors’ pledges ranged from one to five years.

“Our donor list includes some of the most philanthropic families and organizations in this community, with a demonstrated history of giving in support of LFHS and other community causes,” Vandenberg said. “We’re very grateful for their support of this new asset for our high school and our students.”

The construction will include the demolition of the bleachers at the facility. The east bleachers were condemned during the school year after a district inspection determined they were unsafe. The west-side grandstand also will be demolished, and a set of bleachers will be installed on the west side of the track to accommodate both the turf field and track.

The track infield will maintain its grassy area and continue to be used for multiple sports both by the school and by outside groups.

The fundraising will not stop with the installation of the turf field and track. The Diamond Campaign will continue, but not with such a prominent positioning as before. Future phases hope to include raising funds to add a second turf field inside the track, a press box and a more significant grandstand, Vandenberg said.

“We’ll continue our efforts,” he said. “We’ll weave it into our booster operations but still be a specific cause.”

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RationalTht May 31, 2012 at 03:23 PM
On a related note - to implement what the school requires will mean cutting down a large number of mature trees - will that be allowed in Lake Forest?
Jim Powers May 31, 2012 at 07:02 PM
I believe the entire amount was raised by the Boosters. It is a gift to the school, so the school board did not have to add any. The greatest impact for these improvements is for the PE classes at the school.
RationalTht June 01, 2012 at 04:01 AM
So are you saying that the kids will not be allowed on that area anymore? Are you saying that the LF Rec Scouts will no longer be able to play there anymore? You say you "believe" that the board will be paying some of the $1.7M - why? What makes you think that? What did you see that counters what is on the website? Or do you mean you think the commitments made by the donors will not be kept?
RationalTht June 01, 2012 at 04:02 AM
Here is some additional information on Patch indicating that $2M has been raised: http://lakeforest.patch.com/articles/diamond-anniversary-campaign-hits-2-million-mark
Richard Hertz June 01, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Mr. T did this with his yard. He told the village of LF that he had allergies and asked to remove the trees, but told no by LF. He did it any way in the middle of the night. Didn't the boosters donate $$$ for the new soccer/football/baseball fields & new tennis courts to be used at the west campus? It looks in the picture that the new turf at the east campus (which was the old football stadium) has markings for soccer/lacrosse and track. Why?

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