Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly said that Franklin County Schools considered upgrades at the Sower Soccer Fields at Capitol View Park. FCS cannot legally use money for upgrades at the park and will not be discussing the matter at Tuesday's meeting.
As a solution to maintenance issues at Capitol View Park's athletic fields, Franklin County Schools may consider adding artificial turf fields at its own high schools.
The school board discussed some backlash against Sower Soccer Complex during and since the 11th Region boys soccer semifinals and finals last week. Attendees took to social media to voice their displeasure with the fields.
“So to the folks who put the 11th Region boys semis and finals here — one bathroom? Really? Standing in line to go one at a time in one bathroom. Never mind the narrow field and tiny stand. How about renting some johns for the event,” said Jared Peck, a sportswriter for the Lexington Herald-Leader, on Twitter. The field has one bathroom for women and another for men.
Peck’s tweet and several other complaints were compiled into a Facebook post by Ryan Turner Sturm.
“Franklin County is hosting the 11th Region Boys Soccer Tournament at Sower this week... here’s what some of our guests have to say about our facilities. Something has to be done,” Strum wrote in prefacing the tweets.
The park is owned by the city. Frankfort High School, Western Hills High School and Franklin County High School use the park for soccer games. FCHS hosted the boys soccer tournament. Frankfort High’s girls soccer team will host the 11th Region tournament next year. Kopp said the concerns of reporters and fans in attendance were "valid" and should be addressed.
He told school board members Monday that the topic will be discussed at a Facilities Committee meeting at the board office on Tuesday at 6 p.m. After the committee meeting Tuesday, recommendations will go to the school board, which will have final say on any upgrades.
Kopp said that he heard of a petition among parents and fans about the conditions at the fields and that some petitioners expressed interest in the Tuesday meeting. However, the board cannot legally make changes to Capitol View Park.
In order to use any school district money for upgrades at the high schools, the project must be a part of the district facility plan. The Kentucky Department of Education posts the facility plans online and approves the plans.
The turf fields are not in the plan currently, but the committee will discuss that as a possible solution, Kopp told board members. Another option could be to build separate fields for FCS students to use.
“Those are things that again, I’m not going to bring and talk to you about any recommendations on anything until the facility plan committee comes together and if they decide it’s something they want to put it on the plan, then it's something we can talk about, but we couldn’t legally spend any money on that if it’s not on that plan,” Kopp told the board.
Board member Larry Perkins expanded on that, saying he remembered the school district running into a similar issue with that process when it built the Career and Technical Center. A possible building was on the table, but the project was not in the facility plan.
“The hope is that … the architects and the committee looks way ahead, not just what’s the need right now, but what’s the need before we have this meeting again,” said board Chair Natalie Lile.
The Frankfort City Commission discussed upgrades to the five fields at Capitol View Park earlier this year. The proposed improvements, which included installing synthetic turf and improving the sewer system and lights at the park, had an estimated cost at the time of $2.1 million.
Frankfort Independent Schools Superintendent Houston Barber said that he could not speak for the FIS board and it has not discussed any plans for upgrades at the soccer fields, though the district would “give it some thought.”