Board OKs high school soccer field

It may not be set in stone, but Seymour High School’s new soccer field likely will feature artificial turf.

School board members spent nearly two hours Tuesday discussing a $2.2 million project to transform a field west of the school into a soccer complex. Currently, the school uses C.B. Hess Memorial Soccer Field at Freeman Field Park for boys and girls games.

The move would make Seymour one, if not the only, high school in the state to have an artificial playing surface dedicated to soccer, said architect James Lake with Kovert Hawkins.

The new main playing field, along with two practice fields, would be built between the school’s softball and varsity baseball diamonds. Other new features would include bleachers, a press box, lighting, restrooms, a concession stand, equipment storage building and a new parking lot.

A junior varsity baseball field in the area would be moved to adjoining property the school owns. The JV team would use the varsity field until a new field could be built.

Some board members voiced concerns with drainage, existing underground sewer lines, easements to those lines and cost and safety of using artificial turf.

“There are a lot of challenges, no doubt about it,” Lake said. “That field is a mess right now.”

But in a unanimous vote, the board gave the green light for Kovert Hawkins to begin designing the soccer fields and to use a camera in the sewer lines in the area to make sure they won’t be a problem.

The site study and design work will take place this spring and bids will be sought this summer. Construction could begin in the fall. The fields would be ready for use by the 2016-17 season.

“I think this is a no-brainer,” board President Art Juergens said. “I’m satisfied with this option, and I’m ready for us to get the bids out and get this started.”

The project is being funded through a bond issue the board approved last year. Those bonds have been sold, and the school district has the money in place to begin the work, Superintendent Rob Hooker said. There also is about $2 million available for an addition and renovation project at Cortland Elementary School.

New soccer fields are the first phase of a larger-scale plan to improve the high school’s outdoor athletic facilities.

Phase 2 would include work at the football stadium and the tennis courts and building the new junior varsity baseball field. That work is estimated to cost around $2.25 million but has not been approved yet.

Although he plans to bid the soccer field projects both with artificial turf and natural grass options to compare pricing, Lake said artificial turf is the way to go for maintenance and increased usage.

“It increases your real estate, and there is a huge maintenance savings with turf,” he said.

Using artificial turf would solve flooding problems the athletics department has playing at Freeman Field, which often leaves the fields unplayable.

“Turfing takes the volume (of rain) without ponding,” Lake said. “So you have instant playability, and the field can be used over and over with no downtime. You’re aren’t going to wear turf out. So it extends its usability.”

The fields also would be used for marching band practice and physical education classes.

As for safety, Lake said there are studies that go both ways.

“But this turf will be controlled for soccer. It’s an ideal playing condition, so I would say turf is safer,” he said.

Boys soccer coach Matt Dennis and girls coach Greg Musser both attended the meeting to support the project.

Dennis said having the new field and going with the turf playing surface would give Seymour an advantage to get picked to host bigger soccer tournaments, including sectional, regional and even semistate.

Lake agreed, saying more and more schools and parks and recreation departments are going to artificial turf for different sports and even public parks.

At a glance

Phase I — Soccer fields, $2.2 million (funded through bond issue)

  • Turf soccer field to include site work and grading, subsurface drainage, underground detention, artificial turf, scoreboard and fencing
  • Concrete areas for a 2-story press box, concession building and restrooms; portable bleachers and sidewalks
  • Two new parking lots and additional parking spaces along east end of field
  • Sports lighting
  • Two practice fields to include site work, grading, irrigation, installation and seeding

Phase II — Football stadium, tennis courts and varsity baseball diamond, $2.25 million (funding not yet approved)

  • Resurface six west tennis courts and build a one-story support building for concessions and restrooms
  • Turf football field, relocate shot put areas from west end to east end of field, replace press box and add a viewing deck
  • Create new junior varsity baseball field on adjacent property across West Second Street. Project to include site work and grading, storm drainage, fencing and protective netting, scoreboard, lighting, portable bleachers, dugouts with press box, storage and restrooms, asphalt parking lot and sidewalks
Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.