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Two Loudoun high schools getting turf fields; Potomac Falls community cries out for attention

Standing water is visible on Potomac Falls High School’s practice field, one of many athletic facility problems community members from the school listed at the March 24 public hearing. Courtesy photo/Potomac Falls Athletic Booster Club
Two Loudoun high school stadiums are getting a synthetic turf field makeover.

Meanwhile, Potomac Falls High in Sterling continues without a plan for athletic facility improvements, a problem that has gone unaddressed for 18 years, according to some community members.

Park View High School in Sterling and Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn were approved for synthetic turf stadium fields at a recent School Board meeting at a combined project cost of more than $2.5 million.

Loudoun schools have hired Sports Construction Management of Lexington to complete the projects. Sports Construction was the cheaper of two companies who sent in bids for the projects.

The total cost is more than what was appropriated in the 2015 funding in the Capital Improvement Program.

Loudoun schools have requested $104,891 from the county, according to government documents.

But community members speaking on behalf of Potomac Falls at the March 24 meeting expressed needs in other areas, namely the complete makeover of its athletic facilities.

Forty percent of the student population at the school participates in sports, according to Potomac Falls Athletic Booster Club president, Kevin Cowden.

Those athletes, he said, are also getting short-changed by limitations caused by the state of their athletic facilities.

Dr. David Brager, a representative of the booster club, did an analysis of renovations in Loudoun schools in the last 75 years.

According to his analysis, Potomac Falls High hasn't seen any major renovations in 18 years since it was built in 1997, the longest of any high school in the county. Heritage High in Leesburg comes closest at 13 years without renovations.

The school desperately needs the facility update, speakers said.

On average, most Loudoun schools receive a renovation roughly every 9.5 years.

Cowden said Potomac Falls was built without many sports facilities. The school's booster club has invested more than $300,000 in improvements over the years, including fencing, scoreboards and a speaker system, among others, he said.

But they can't keep up with every need, both those pre-existing and those that emerge as the years go by.

“The capital necessary to bring our facilities to a comparable state [hinders] our ability to invest in the programs that are core to our mission,” said Cowden. “We should not have to decide between surfacing a stadium field and funding a scholarship program.”

Safety is an issue. Some of the bathrooms in the sports complexes flood, causing mold. Tennis courts have cracks and standing water. The fields collect water, dirt and mud. The weight room has broken equipment.

“All of these things are resulting in possibilities for injuries,” said Kim Curl with the booster club. “Beyond the safety … we're much less competitive due to the poor quality of our facilities.”

According to her and others, players lose practice time in off-seasons because of poor field conditions, meaning a less prepared team when the season does roll around.

But they're also losing the home field advantage by not having adequate fields, they said.

The school's athletic booster documented the facilities' issues, including cracks, damaged equipment, flooded fields and vermin. Courtesy photo/Potomac Falls athletic booster


Another good reason to build bigger High Schools. Louodoun would have 3-4 less athletic fields to worry about if the schools were similar in size to Fairfax county schools, which a lot of people like to compare us to.

I believe also that a small amount of the cost for Park View’s turf was in a grant through the Redskins.  I understand the frustration of PFHS, as the abilities of some schools PTAs/PTOs to raise money on their own is significantly different due to the families/incomes that attend the schools. After a comparable amount of years, PVHS finally got necessary renovations.  You simply can not compare many of our Loudoun County Schools.  It is not an equal playing field in so many ways. (No pun intended)  At Park View, we would love to have many of the perks that these other schools can afford due to larger contributions to the parent student organizations.  Instead, we keep on without.

I assume a $250k loan taken by the SB boosters constitutes fundraising. The County must still provide the remaining $900k+ of tax payer dollars to complete the project.

I seem to recall Stone bridge raising their own funds to rebuild the weigh room (completed), athletic storage facilities (completed) and turf fields. 9County would not let Stone bridge do it on their own.  seems like a little bit more community involvement would help PotFalls.

Sorry for the plight at Potomac Falls but turf fields save us money after 5 years. It’s a poor argument and you should try a little harder, Anna.

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