Spring Lake AD highlights need for bond proposal

There was much celebration around Spring Lake last fall when the Lakers’ varsity football team finished the regular season 8-1 and was rewarded with a home game in the opening round of the state playoffs.
Matt DeYoung
Apr 30, 2014

But when game time rolled around on Nov. 1, the skies opened up, the rains fell in sheets, and Grabinski Field turned into a glorified cow pasture, with more mud than grass remaining by the end of the game — a heartbreaking Lakers’ loss.

On May 6, voters will have the opportunity to decide on a pair of bond proposals, the second of which would provide significant upgrades to the Spring Lake Public Schools athletic facilities.

No, Grabinski Field won’t be replaced should the bond proposal pass, but the historic field would receive plenty of upgrades, and would also see a much lighter schedule of games due to new fields planned at Spring Lake High School.

Lakers’ athletic director Cavin Mohrhardt recently took some time to highlight the proposed improvements, and why they’re needed.

“This would take care of the needs we have athletically,” Mohrhardt said. “The big thing is, it’s going to leave Grabinski where it’s at. People didn’t want it moved out of the village, and I agree with them. I’m not sure if there’s a better place to be in West Michigan on a Friday night, right on the river. It’s a great atmosphere.”

Mohrhardt said he and several others put a significant amount of time and energy trying to gauge the community’s sentiments on athletic improvements.

Read more of this story in today's print edition or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.




Grabinski field is a great place on a Friday night. You can't beat the location, and the crowd loves their hometown team. However, the stadium as a whole is very worn down. The bleachers are mix matched, the away bleachers are so tiny that the away fans are forced to stand the whole game, and he Lakers cannot even hold their own track invite due to the lack of necessary lanes.


Proposal II will bring many needed upgrades to Grabinski Field. The track will be increased from 6 to 8 lanes which will allow more home track meets for our boys/girls teams. In this day and age many meets are "Tri-meets" involving 3 teams and with 6 lanes Spring Lake is not able to accommodate these types of meets.

The bleachers will are be upgraded and a new press box will be built. The entrance will be changed to allow better access to the field while still paying homage to Tom Grabinski.

The grass will remain natural.


Along with much needed improvements to the football field and track, the improvement of practice fields and playing fields for sports like soccer and lacrosse is part of the bond issue. My grandchildren, who are Spring Lake athletes, have stressed to me the necessity of these improvements. The current fields are causing unnecessary student injuries. These improvements are necessities, not luxuries!


I am very excited about the new plans with proposal II. Not only does it keep Grabinski Field in the village, but it also gives our band kids wonderful new fields to practice on. I have seen these kids walking into the high school early in the morning after practice with mud up to their ankles. This will also offer much needed space to the fastest growing new sport at our school, lacrosse. In my opinion, the condition of the grass fields behind our middle school are currently inadequate, unsafe and very overused. This will also take some of the over use off Grabinski to keep it in shape for our football and track programs. This is an overall win in my book!


I'm very skeptical of this proposal once again...as I'll bet are many of my fellow residents. Don't cave to the pressure of SLPS to convince you of anything. I find it very disconcerting that SLPS staff have been directed to attempt to influence the vote. This only shows that they know this request is bogus, and not needed. To buy a laptop or Ipad for each student is ridiculous. Most of our kids have access to these devices and internet at home, they don't need to be "wired" to get a good education. It's ridiculous to tear down buildings that can be retro-fitted for much less. We don't need turf, grass is fine and much better to avoid injury. Busses, ok, maybe. Tell us the age and condition of current vehicles and prove that you really need them. Prove everything...Create a stratejic plan to maintain the buildings, don't just neglect them till they fail and ask for new ones. I think it's shameful that this administration has spent classroom time trying to program teachers to preach the party line instead of reading, writing, and arithmetic.


Certainly you are entitled to your opinion and how you are going to vote. I can respect you or anyone else in the community for that. For you to say that SLPS Staff are being directed/programmed or wasting classroom time in an attempt to influence the vote is just not true. Many of the staff at SLPS are excited about the proposal and what it has to offer.

A great deal of time/effort has been put into this new proposal. It all started back in December when the new bond committee was formed specifically with the addition of "No" voting community members such as myself. The committee gathered as much information as possible via phone polling and community meetings to determine if another bond proposal was even an option.

With the facts we gathered we determined that the community was interested in a different proposal and one that also offered options. Did that mean everyone in the community was interested in seeing a new bond proposal? The answer to that is obviously "No". In life we all know you can't make everyone happy. However, there have been many "No" voters who are now excited about the new proposal. Families who had "No" signs in their yards in November now have "Yes" signs.

In the past could Spring Lake Public Schools have invested more money in updating buildings? The answer is "Yes". The current administration has admitted that over the years past and current administrations chose to use money in other areas. Going forward they realize we can never allow ourselves to get into a situation like this again and therefore plans will be put in place to ensure the facilities get the attention they need in the coming years.

While portions of the original elementary schools (1950's) are being demolished, specifically recent additions (2007) are being kept because we didn't believe those tax dollars should be "wasted". None of the intermediate/middle school building is being demolished nor is any of the high school building being demolished.

Artificial turf has changed over the years. It is not the thin piece of carpet that was laid over cement that we first saw in the Silverdome many years ago. Injuries have significantly decreased as high schools, colleges, and pro teams have installed the new versions. There are samples at the high school which you are available for anyone in the community to look at. Also, natural grass fields used for lacrosse show significant wear and tear. If you check behind the Middle School/Intermediate School as well as Grabinski field you will find no grass, just dirt, in the goal areas. They are large patches of dirt because a majority of the game is played around the goals. Maintenance costs for these fields is significantly increasing.

The bus fleet is aging with many of the buses over 10 years old. The cost to keep these buses operating could be used in the classroom if they are replaced.

The 1 to 1 devices are a one time investment. Originally this was going to be a multiple cycle investment meaning the plan was to purchase devices more than once. We decided as a committee that after one cycle more than likely most if not all students would have these devices at home and would be able to bring them back and forth to school.

Collaborative learning and having access to information instantly is becoming more common in schools. The way students learn is continually changing. The idea is to incorporate these devices for a portion of the students learning but they are not meant to replace the teacher or to keep students from interacting with the teacher or with their classmates.

In closing, my goal is not to convince you or anyone else in voting "Yes". That is your right and how you decide to vote is your business. My hope though is that I have shed some light as to why and how the committee came up with the May proposal. I'm sure I haven't answered all your questions so please feel free to call the Director of Operations at 846-5500 X3708 or the Superintendent at 847-7919. If you truly would like specific "Numbers" or "Proof" as you mentioned above they can certainly provide those specifics. You can also access information at the following link:


Thanks for your comments/concerns in regard to the May proposal. We believe everyone in the community has a voice whether it is in support of the proposal or not.


Bus Update
16 busses are 10 years or older
10 of the 16 busses have over 150,000 miles
2 new buses will be bought each year for the next 5 years (10 total)
Savings = $50,000 to $75,000 per year when they are replaced


Is there a schedule for the construction once this proposal is approved. I hope it does. I am just curious how long it is expected to take for all of the work? Does it all happen congruently and if not where do they start, in what order, and when? I've been looking for the proposed schedule online but haven't found anything. You seem well informed. thanks


I responded to your initial question listed below.


Proposal II of the Spring Lake Public Schools' bond is directed solely at improvements to the current Laker athletic facilities including both Grabinski Field and those at the high school site, which, in my opinion, are not only antiquated but also marginal at best. Solid, supportive playing surfaces will benefit our athletes in both their preparation and their play. Fields and facilities that are difficult to maintain are costly; not only to keep operational but also to the health of our student athletes. These upgrades are necessary and the young people of our community deserve to practice and compete in conditions that promote safety, teamwork and pride. Please go to the Spring Lake Public Schools website to educate yourself about both of the proposals included in the bond.


As a mother of younger athlethlets that use the fields and will continue to use them in the future I am disappointed in their current shape. I think that SLPS did a good job of listening to the public by keeping our prized Grabininski field in the Village. It does need some TLC though so having a new entrance, ticket booth, press box, bleachers and team rooms makes sense. I'm also happy to see that SLPS is adding turf fields to the HS for Lacrosse, Soccer and Band. I have gone to the presentations and felt the turf and it's not outdoor carpet over pad and then over cement. It's almost like a memory foam mattress! The amount of money it will save the district in maintenance is huge. There will be no need to fertilize, water, mow or re-seed. Grand Haven's football field hasn't needed maintenance for over 5 years! This fall will be the first time that GH has to put more rubber particles into their field. It is a good and safe options or our Athlets and our budget. I hunk this is a great opportunity for us in SL and it would be unfortunate to see it voted down.


Can anyone point me to where it might have been posted in the past....the completion schedule (for the actual work), if and hopefully when, these proposals are approve?


All work will be completed by the fall of 2016. Certain areas will be finished before then but the entire project won't be completed until then. The design phase would start almost immediately if the proposal is approved with constructing beginning in the Spring of 2015. Renovations would happen during the summer break of 2015 and 2016.

I hope this helps and thank you for the question.


Jason you comments sound straight out of the script the district has spent months preparing to feed the taxpayers what you want them to hear. If this was a good bond proposal it would have been voted in the first time. Instead you beefed up the rhetoric and brought the same things back to vote on 6 months later. I can tell you that the teacher that came to my door was not happy at having to spout the party line, she was told to. I could tell. This is a choice between wants and needs, school administrators still operate as if the economy was good and the tax coffers unlimited. There is a limit. Students have received a great education at SLPS for years without any of these issues in the bond. They can continue to do so for as long as it takes for the economy to recover. Every building construction always comes with new office space for administrators, this does nothing to educate our children. Why can't you do like the rest of us taxpayers and spread your capital needs out as you can afford them, do some strategic planning and stay within your budgets. Ask for 5 mil every year for 9 years instead of 45 at one time. Again no matter how alarmist the propaganda is this is clearly a wants over needs bond. If it fails, which is will, I don't want to see it ressurrected in another 6 months. The taxpayers will have spoken....again!


I'm not sure I understand your mill suggestion but just so we are clear the increase will be .67 for taxpayers. It will go from 6.33 to 7.00.

A Home Market Value of
$120,000 will see an increase of $40.20 for the year or $3.35 a month
$150,000 will see an increase of $50.25 for the year or $4.19 a month
$200,000 will see an increase of $67.00 for the year or $5.58 a month
$250,000 will see an increase of $83.75 for the year or $6.98 a month
$300,000 will see an increase of $100.50 for the year or $8.38 a month

I'm pretty confident if we took a poll not one person would want their taxes raised for any type of funding project in regards to the village, township, schools, police, fire department, etc. But people also realize the importance of these organizations and know that supporting them and helping them improve will pay dividends in the long run.

For me to say every single staff member/teacher is on board would be foolish because I don't know but you mention one at this point. There may be more but I know that many staff members do support it.

I am not programmed to provide information. I started responding to questions long ago and have done it on my own accord. My goal has been to keep to the facts and inform voters. I have no interest in getting into a "War of Words" or personal attacks.

Neither you or I know if the bond will pass. I believe it will because this time around the committee listened to the community in order to come up with a proposal that better represented the vision the community has for Spring Lake Public Schools. (Yes I know not ever community member agrees with the vision). Contrary to your opinion this proposal focuses on the needs the district is facing. Obviously these needs such as roofs, HVAC systems, technology, bussing, athletics to name a few are not going away so if you have a better way to pay for these needed upgrades without raising taxes I am all ears. The general budget cannot support these capital improvements.

In the end we are obviously not going to agree so I appreciate your thoughts and comments and I wish you well.


The state Attorney General has issued a ruling that prohibits using school staff and public funds to influence voters on a bond proposal. They can certainly educate the public on the facts of the bond but not use those resources for a yes or no vote. Yes,teachers are pushed to support the proposal and get out the yes vote. Some agree and others disagree. On a more positive note, the new proposals are more reasonable.


How about school board members... or even the SL cop who is on the school board and influencing the public while on duty.

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