After a lengthy debate, the board voted 4-3 to approve installing a natural grass field, instead of synthetic turf in the soon-to-be-renovated Northcutt Stadium.
Voting against the proposal were board members Brett Bittner, Stuart Fleming and Tom Cheater.
Cheater said he was uncomfortable with making such a weighted decision, and asked the board to let a construction and design committee decide.
The board turned down his recommendation in a 4-3 vote with members Randy Weiner, Jill Mutimer, Tony Fasola and Irene Berens opposed.
Cheater, Fleming and Bittner said they felt unequipped to make the decision because they were not experts on the topic.
“It makes more sense for the people we have tasked for the design to decide,” Bittner said.
Even after days of research, Cheater said he felt more comfortable with sports and design experts making the final call.
“If we are deciding this, then we should be debating how many women’s toilets there should be,” Fleming said.
Push for final vote
Board members in favor of grass said they were committed to maintaining the traditions that occurred in Northcutt Stadium, down to the last blade of natural grass.
Mutimer said she was tired of drawing out the debate and wanted to vote on the field Tuesday night.
“It comes down to preference,” she said.
Other board members argued they preferred bringing Northcutt up to date by upgrading to synthetic turf.
“The only thing historic about Northcutt Stadium when we renovate it will be the stone wall around it …tradition and nostalgia cost real dollars,” Fleming said.
The Cobb School District transitioned its 16 high schools to artificial turf between 2010 and 2011, at a cost of roughly $10 million, said Jay Dillon, district spokesman.
Mickey King, parent of two children at Marietta High School, was relieved with the board’s vote.
A 1980 graduate of the high school, King said he had fond memories of playing on the same field when he was on the school’s football team.
“It’s got my sweat, blood and tears on it,” King said.
Regardless of what other football programs or school districts were doing, Marietta City Schools had tradition to maintain.
“We are Marietta. We need special and different. We like it that way,” he said.
Construction manager selected
The board voted unanimously to select LaGrange-based Torrance Construction as the construction manager for the stadium for a fee of $6.5 million.
The firm has previously built for the district, and was responsible for construction of the Marietta Sixth Grade Academy and the Marietta High School Performing Arts Center.
The district plans to upgrade its nearly 74-year-old Northcutt Stadium in the coming year with SPLOST dollars.
Construction is expected to begin after the last home game of the 2014 football season, and be completed by the beginning of the 2015 season.
At a November meeting, the school board approved a $30,000 contract with the Atlanta-based architectural firm Gardner, Spencer, Smith, Tench and Jarbeau to design the stadium’s renovations.
The stadium was built for $25,000 in 1940, and has been host to high school football games since then, at the corner of Winn and Polk Streets.