Field of dreams: turfing of upperfield completed

December 2, 2015 — by Eric Sze and Rachel Zhang

Upper turf field renovations completed with new ones on the way.

In mid November, the girls’ soccer team switched its practice venue to the newly turfed upper field. With practices running later than 5 p.m., the stadium lights, completed late last month, provide the much-needed illumination for the girls to see and continue drills in the dark.

The renovations began on June 8, and were anticipated to finish fall of 2015. Plants operations supervisor Brian Moran said the construction workers are working furiously to complete the turfing of the softball field, which is expected to finish by mid December.

The total cost of the project was $3.75 million of the $44 million of the Measure E bond money allotted to Saratoga High School. The renovations aimed to modernize and enhance the area for student use.  

Replacing the natural grass field with artificial turf required a lot of initial work. Besides leveling the field, a new drainage system and underlayer using base rock were formed to create a surface for the artificial turf to rest on. The process was far more extensive and time-consuming than the turfing of the Benny Pierce field in 2012, since the lower field needed only to replace the first-generation turf.

Principal Paul Robinson compared the two turf projects to house renovations.

The lower field was already turf so all we had to do was pull up the old turf to replace it with new turf, much like replacing the carpet in your home,” Robinson said. “[On the upper field], instead of replacing carpet, we’re replacing the entire foundation of the house.”

Moran cited several minor delays that occurred during the process. The access point to reach the field was difficult for large vehicles to unload equipment and move, since the layout of the back parking lot required them to maneuver around the tight space behind the science building. In addition, the rainy weather contributed to various short halts in construction.

The reception from students has been generally positive, as some see the upper field turf as a much-needed addition to the school both environmentally and practically.

“I think the turf was the right decision, since grass can be such a huge waste of water,” junior lacrosse player Megana Saripella said. “The grass was also uneven, so playing lacrosse on it was really difficult like [scooping] up ground balls [with the lacrosse stick].”

The turf has also received praise from band students, who practice their formations on the upper field and will be able to do so at night. Members said the previous grass field was ridden with flies and often turned into mud when it rained.

“[The turf field] is much nicer to do activities on, and it looks nicer,” junior flute player Joyce Lai said. “There's a water fountain now, which is convenient.”

The turf field retains more heat than plain grass does, which will be tough for students who use the field during the summer. Despite these drawbacks, Saripella is fully supportive of the renovation.

Junior softball and field hockey player Maxine Parr welcomes the new multipurpose turf field, as the additional field allows for more space and helps to avoid scheduling conflicts.

“During the fall when the band, football team and field hockey team need turf to practice, there will be two fields which will make scheduling much easier,” Parr said. “I am looking forward to not tripping over football’s equipment during field hockey warm-ups.”

But like many other members of the softball team, she wishes the softball field hadn’t been turfed.

“Our softball team sent many emails explaining how it is more dangerous to play on and how we would have a disadvantage during the season because no other school has a turf field,” Parr said.

Another addition, the new music building, where the previous H wing was located near the office, is anticipated to begin construction on April 1 and be finished by late 2017.

The project will cost between $10 to $20 million. Moran said that the two-story building is expected to house the entire music department with spacious rooms for the various orchestras, choir, band and equipment. The second level will include a choir room, several rooms for teachers and individual rooms, where students can practice their instruments.

Junior Sarah Jin, who performs in the Chamber ensemble, is eager to utilize the space and attract new members.

“Hopefully, even nicer facilities will attract more students to choir, and our program will eventually be as large as it was in [my] freshman year again,” Jin said.

Although the renovations encompassed by Measure E appear to be simple, there’s a much more complicated process that goes on behind the scenes. The blueprints and drawings of the music building, for instance, must first be approved by the Division of State Architecture (DSA), a lengthy process, according to Moran.

When the construction begins, a staging area carved out of the parking lot will be needed to host the supplies and equipment. A plan to avoid some of the traffic from the construction zone is being drawn up.

Near the designated area for the music building, the West Wing by the west parking lot now includes three portable buildings that house the CASSY, the TLC and the ASSIST program. The factory-created buildings, which cost about $300,000, came in two pieces and were assembled on site in early September.

With the renovations to modernize the school in place, Moran said he has had more variety in his work days, balancing both the ongoing construction and maintenance of school facilities. Despite the continuous change, his goal has remained the same.

“My focus is to maintain the facilities as best as possible and to create a safe environment for all the students and visitors every day,” Moran said.


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