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Ripon High track overhaul added to city’s RDA wish list

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POSTED August 23, 2009 2:53 a.m.
RIPON – The money might not be pouring in for the Stouffer Field renovation, but for project coordinator Stephanie Hobbs it’s just seeing the concept grow and garner the support of the community that keeps her going.

With most funding sources running dry thanks to the one-two combination of an economic downtown and budget woes it didn’t surprise the group to see that donations weren’t picking up as the summer drove on towards the start of the school year.

But even without more  donations growing their bank account, those behind the Ripon Community Athletic Fund are hanging their hat on the buzz that continues to grow among residents – something that intensified earlier this month when Ripon Unified Trustee Ernie Tyhurst lobbied to get the project put on the City of Ripon’s Redevelopment “wish list.”

Getting the funding from the RDA is a long shot, but Tyhurst – the retired Ripon Planning Director that knows all about public finance and redevelopment – is hoping that maybe they can do something similar to what Turlock just did to finish a $2.8 million overhaul of Turlock High’s Joe Debely Stadium.

The cost is being picked up through that city’s redevelopment agency.

“Just to see the project added to the redevelopment list was a great thing for us to be able to see,” said Hobbs. “We’ve had the support of the City of Ripon for a long time and we have that resolution of partnership with the school board, so to see this just work itself out on its own between the two boards is great to see.

“The community has been behind this for a long time, and now it’s more important than ever as we head back into the school year and start the sports that would benefit the most from this project.”

It’s not like the RCAF is trying to make a stand on something that isn’t easily visible to those who follow local sports.

All it takes to wash out the field for the remainder of the football season is a thunderstorm during a game – similar to what happened two years ago – and leave the surface a mud pit full of crags and holes.

When the spring rolls around and the showers steadily continue for several days it isn’t uncommon to see standing water on the track around the field either – thanks to the lack of drainage and the years of feet packing in the surface that makes absorption even more unlikely.

Hobbs has long maintained that the project will be a major source of civic pride and something that the students will be able to benefit from for years to come. She also knows that the safety of the athletes who compete on those surfaces would be greatly increased with the advancements in synthetic surfaces over the last 30 years.

“I just heard a story the other day about a girl on the track team that had stress fractures in both of her feet from running on the track,” Hobbs said. “When you see how much of a difference a new surface actually makes it really starts to become clear that this is something we could benefit from right away.”

For more information about the Ripon Community Athletic Fund or how to get involved with supporting the project visit the group’s website at www.rcafsite.com.
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