Thu09182014

Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

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Supervisors want new stadium at HS

Instead of a grass field, synthetic turf is being considered

A decision to build a new stadium in King George was all but decided last week on July 6.

The School Board will have the chance to provide its views at a joint meeting with Supervisors Aug. 3 and also talk about the option of synthetic turf versus natural grass. 

The high school athletic complex is proposed to consist of a new stadium to support football along with field hockey, soccer and future lacrosse.
The concession area, rest rooms and team rooms are expandable and the county has the ability to phase them by starting small. The schematic plan shows they will be sited so they can be used by the baseball and softball fields on the other side.

The proposed stadium project has been in the county capital plan for years, but had been put off in the past due to cost and the downturn in the economy. 

 

Also, there was some side-tracking going on for the last few months, with strong consideration instead given to the possible complete upgrade to Hunter Field.
That took place since April when a contract was awarded by the Board of Supervisors for a professional architectural design and engineering services.
Phase I of the contract with CHA, Inc., of Richmond, was to evaluate the site at the high school and also evaluate Hunter Field with an eye to what’s needed and costs for upgrading it to current standards compared to costs for building a new stadium.

Building a new stadium won that comparison, coming in at nearly $2 million less than completely upgrading Hunter Field, which would involve additional things such as shifting the field north and construction of a retaining wall, ADA access necessitating construction of more buildings for restrooms and concessions, and creating enough parking.

The cost for a new stadium with 2,000 seats is currently being estimated at $3,332,000 or a higher grand total of $4,789,750 if seating capacity is instead upped to 4,000 seats.

If phased construction is desired, the phasing is suggested in the final CHA report, which can be found here.

SYNTHETIC TURF   
CHA rep Dave Barlow last week estimated it would cost an additional $400,000 to install synthetic turf instead of grass at a new stadium.
Overall, supervisors appear to be enamored with the concept of synthetic turf. 
One big reason is that synthetic turf would allow for nearly constant use by any and all sports and physical education classes.
Another attractive reason to select artificial turf over grass is that it would reduce operating costs for maintenance by the School Board for irrigating, mowing, fertilizing, aerating and topdressing.
The school division has been relying on volunteers to help with costs and upkeep for Hunter Field when and if they could.
But that hadn’t worked out so well, since it was revealed in March that the division had been informed by football officials that the field had become unusable due to lack of maintenance.
According to CHA, synthetic turf will still need to be groomed. Grooming synthetic turf involves running a groomer over the field as necessary.  If that’s not done as recommended by the manufacturer, the most-used portions of the field will wear out very quickly.
Other maintenance involves picking up litter regularly and some spot washing from time to time.
Barlow said if a field is properly cared for, it should be expected to last about 8-10 years prior to replacement.
HIGHER COST BUT MORE USE WITH SYNTHETIC TURF   
Barlow provided a 20-year cost comparison, which included installation and maintenance for each surface, saying the big savings is in annual maintenance, as noted above.
With artificial turf, there is no chance of heat loss during drought or winter kill.
Cost over 20 years for natural grass was estimated at $800,000 versus $1,100,000 for synthetic turf. 
Synthetic turf is still more costly, but it provides the huge advantage of being able to keep it in nearly constant use, without having to provide weeks of rest in between seasons of heavy use.
Barlow noted that natural grass fields should be limited to use of only 15-25 hours per week.
Both Chairman Dale Sisson and Supervisor Cedell Brooks said they thought synthetic turf was likely the way to go, and with no argument from their colleagues.

HUNTER FIELD   
Supervisor Joe Grzeika had some ideas about continued use of Hunter Field, suggesting that building a new stadium be contingent on the School Board turning Hunter Field over to the county.
Grzeika noted the county would need to put some money and work into Hunter Field, estimating about $150,000-175,000 from figures provided from CHA. That would be in addition to regular maintenance. The CHA rep agreed that a youth soccer field would fit nicely without doing a lot of rework.
Grzeika also talked about the King George Youth Athletic Association (KGYAA), saying it has a large youth football program and noting they took it over when the county Parks & Recreation Department dropped it a few years ago.
Grzeika noted, “They’ve taken that over and have done well. They are going to need a field to play.”

TIMING   
It’s not clear when a new stadium could be constructed and ready for use. The CHA contract calls for the scope of work for the design of a new stadium at 280 days, which is more than 9 months.
That’s only for the design and does not include the actual renovations or construction, which would be the subject of an additional contract following another request for proposals.
Construction phasing decisions might be made after construction bids are submitted, with phasing options advertised as alternates.

No SCHOOL DIVISION REP AT PRESENTATION   
The final report was presented to the public and the Board of Supervisors last week.
No School Board members or division representatives were on hand to hear the presentation.
County Administrator Travis Quesenberry had e-mailed the final report document to members of the Board and Superintendent Candace Brown the week prior to the meeting.
Brown had responded she would send it the members of the School Board and inform them of an invitation to attend last week’s Board meeting on July 6.

The topic is expected to be reviewed at a joint meeting Aug. 3.

(To see the final CHA report, press here.)

 

Phyllis Cook

Staff reporter

 

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