Pilot Butte council updated on school landscaping plans

·3 min read

Plans for a landscaping project at Pilot Butte School were shared by organizers with town council on Feb. 8.

Spearheaded by local resident Twyla Armstrong and school principal Tammy Sillers, the $1.2 million project involves moving a ball diamond, and creating space for a CFL-sized flag football field plus a running track. In a different part of the green space, a new play structure is also slated to be added.

By decommissioning cisterns at the school more parking can be added, Armstrong said.

Space is also being left for modular classrooms and more greenery is planned as well. In a junior area of the green space, the current play structure will be replaced with an accessible one, framed with a sidewalk, and the existing sand replaced with pea gravel. A mini artificial-turf soccer area will also be added, with some other greenery to be planted as well.

Armstrong said fundraising has been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic but support from sponsors and the local school council has enabled some work to be done anyway. The walking trail has been built. Bike racks, buddy benches, and picnic tables have also been installed.

“The reason for (the buddy bench) is if there is a child who is struggling to fit in, or not being involved in play, that child can sit on that bench and the other kids are aware that child is looking for someone to play with,” Armstrong said. “It’s just a way for kids who are a little more insecure to help find their way.”

This year, construction of a long-jump pit and planting more greenery is scheduled around the walking path, Armstrong said. Major work is also planned in the junior play area.

“All of this is ticketed at about $100,000, and with sponsors, fundraising and some grants, I think we can get this done,” Armstrong said of this year’s work. “Then we’d be looking at sprinklers and grass the following spring.”

One of the ongoing challenges will be finding a water source so the new grass, shrubs and trees can survive. Armstrong said the committee is trying to make responsible choices, selecting drought-tolerant species of plants, as well as planting the greenery where it can best be watered, keeping water conservation in mind.

“The reason we have these challenges is the wells on our site are not functional,” Armstrong said, noting one well has been decommissioned and another has been designated a safety hazard.

Armstrong addressed council because the committee would like to tie into the town’s water system instead of relying on wells.

Coun. Scott Einarson asked if the old track was part of the project but was told it was town property. He also asked if Prairie Valley School Division would be contributing to the playground areas. Sillers noted there was not a lot of funding available for the exterior features of a school playground.

Council did not make any decisions on funding opportunities though Mayor Peggy Chorney said there would be discussions at future meetings to further examine how the town could help out with the project.

Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum