Replacing Easton’s artificial turf field to cost $812,000

6 October 2018

The School Committee gave Athletic Director Bill Matthews the go-ahead to begin pursuing funds to replace the artificial turf field and make other improvements at Muscato Stadium.

The project is estimated to cost $812,317, according to Activitas Inc. of Dedham which was hired by the School Department to review the Oliver Ames High School field and handle preliminary design work.

The project includes replacing the synthetic turf system and adding a pad which helps provide additional shock absorption and better protection for the players. The track will also be resurfaced and permanent posts added for the ball netting.

Athletic Director William Matthews proposed four potential funding sources for the project at the School Committee’s Sept. 28 workshop.

Matthews estimated obtaining $200,000 through community fundraising. He said Easton resident Fred Murray has offered to spearhead a fundraising drive.

“He feels confident we could get to that number,” Matthews said.

Matthews will also explore obtaining $375,000 in Community Preservation Act funds. The CPA movies cannot be used for an artificial turf, but Matthews said there are aspects of the project such as site preparation and drainage which could be CPA eligible.

Some $50,000 will be available from the athletic revolving account. He also proposed seeking $200,000 from the town’s capital project funds.

School Committee Chairman Jacqueline Weisman was concerned the School Department’s operating budget would be the back-up funding source if the other plans fell through.

School Superintendent Lisha Cabral said if fundraising fell short the project could possibly be delayed until the funds were available. A delay could mean the costs would rise.

Weisman said she was also concerned because the Early Elementary School project could be going to the voters for approval next year.

“We have a pretty big project coming up,” she said.

The artificial turf field is 10 years old, Matthews said. It is used by OAHS football, soccer, boys and girls lacrosse and field hockey teams as well as the school band, town recreation programs and the community.

“It’s probably gotten 20,000 hours of use over the last 10 years,” Matthews said.

Though the field is currently safe for use, it will continue to degrade, Matthews said.

“It’s aging and it’s aging pretty fast,” he said.

When it is no longer safe to use, the schools will have to find other fields at Stonehill College or out of town to play on, he said.

The School Committee voted 3-0 to instruct Matthews to begin researching funding for the field project.

“We have this wonderful field that is used by the community all year round,” School Committee member Nancy DeLuca said. “It would be a shame not to see that space continued.

“I think as a town we need to support this because everyone in town uses it whether they are a player or a walker.”

If the project is put out to bid in March, it could go before Town Meeting for funding in May 2019. Construction could take place over the summer and the field would be ready by Labor Day 2019.

The artificial turf field was built as part of a $1.7 million renovation of Muscato Stadium in 2009. The upgrade included a new track, handicap accessible bleachers and press box, and the field itself that is used by football, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse teams. Most of the project was bonded by the town, but the Friends of Easton Community Athletic Complex, a private nonprofit group raised $500,000 in private funds toward for the construction of an artificial turf.

In 2013, the School Committee voted unanimously to accept the donation of Oliver Ames High School’s turf field from the Friends of Easton Community Athletic Complex.