NEWS

Bermudian Springs breaks ground on new athletic fields

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A concave football field. A short, sloped field hockey field. A softball field with no dugout or scoreboard.

These issues and others convinced officials at Bermudian Springs School District that they needed to take big measures to update their football stadium and multipurpose athletic field last year.

The first steps of that process started May 11, as earth-moving equipment prepared to replace the two grass fields with synthetic turf. The $2.25 million project forced the district to move its May 22 graduation to another location, but Supt. Shane Hotchkiss believes the new fields will be worth the inconvenience.

"We're not just doing it to do it," Hotchkiss said.

The condition of the two fields first came to the district's attention in August 2012 as officials identified long-term facility issues they would need to address in the coming years.

That process has led the district to repair roofs, update heating and air conditioning systems and revamp drainage areas. The installation of the turf fields is the last step of that project.

While the district looked into the possibility of renovating the existing fields, doing so would have cost $2 million, on top of about $55,000 per year for maintenance, Hotchkiss said.

The district was able to save about $50,000 by doing both fields at the same time because dirt from the stadium field can be used to even out the sloped multi-purpose field, Hotchkiss said.

The cost of the new turf fields is covered by a $5 million construction bond the district received in September 2012, said Justin Peart, the district's business manager. The district has been paying off the debt for the fields for several years already.

The district expects to have that debt, as well as the $26 million debt from its 2008 high school renovation, paid off by 2023, Peart said. The district will be debt-free at that point.

Administrators expect construction crews to finish the stadium field by the end of July and hope to hold a dedication ceremony before the first home football game of the season Sept. 4. They expect the multi-purpose field to be done by the second week in August.

The timing forced the district to move its high school graduation, which is typically held on the stadium field, to Messiah College's Brubaker Hall, Hotchkiss said. The senior class had the option of holding the ceremony at Bermudian's gym, High School Principal Roger Stroup said in November. Almost 70 percent voted in favor of going to the Mechanicsburg college, which can hold twice as many people as the gym.

The construction had to start when it did to allow ample time for the district's spring sports to finish their seasons, Hotchkiss said. Waiting until after graduation also was not an option, he said, because the district hopes to have the fields finished by the start of the fall football season.

When finished, the school will have two new fields, which, between them, will accommodate field hockey, softball, football and soccer.

The stadium field will measure 527 feet long by 215 feet wide and have a 63- by 36-foot eagle emblem in the middle, according to the blueprints. The existing track and bleachers will remain in place.

The multi-purpose field will measure 427 feet long by 262 feet wide.

In 12 to 15 years, the district will have to spend another $320,000 to replace the fields, Hotchkiss said. That project will cost less than the initial installation, which included the price of excavation.

 

eveningsun.com

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