October 18, 2007 at 7:53 a.m.
When Chisago Lakes High School opened its doors in 1976, school sports were primarily for boys. Community sports programs were rare, mostly consisting of baseball and softball during the summer months.
Now, CLHS offers at least six sports opportunities every season and community sports programs, such as Lakes Area Recreation Association (LARA) see increased participation every year.
The proposed $14.2 million Chisago Lakes School District Nov. 6 referendum includes field construction and improvements to address increasing space contraints.
As the district faced another round of repairs to its 20-year-old track, engineers told the district that fixing the track really won't solve problems on the asphalt surface.
The last time the track was repaired was about seven years ago, Director of Business Services Heide Miller said. At the time, the contractor hired to complete the work said they couldn't guarantee that it would last and told the district it might be only a temporary fix, lasting a year or two.
Fortunately, it held up for seven years, but the problem lies below the asphalt surface. The soil underneath the track is inadequate for supporting it, and needs to be replaced before any work can be done to reconstruct the track.
The football field within the track also suffers from poor soil conditions and overuse. At times, visiting football teams have nearly refused to play on the field because of the poor conditions and fear of injuries that it may cause.
As the School Board looked at its options for the track and football field, it also began exploring ways to maximize land use on the 96-acre high school campus.
Much of the land has been unused, primarily because additional athletic fields weren't needed - until now.
Community Education Director Bob Meyer, who has worked extensively on the field development plan, said the vacant acreage at the high school was always intended for some type of development.
"The idea was to have the land in case it was needed for fields or as a school site," Meyer said. "Once the fields were put in, there wasn't enough land left to use for a school."
The CLHS campus currently includes the track/varsity football field, which is also used for varsity soccer games, a second soccer field, two baseball fields, two softball fields and space utilized for football/soccer practices and games.
The School Board had many meetings concentrating on the best way to serve needs of the students, while also hoping to accommodate the increasing needs of community sports programs.
The first issue was the condition of the varsity football field. The board explored the option of