Triple T Committee Chooses Turf Plan

Soon to be New:  This is a view eastward across the Old Saybrook High School natural turf field and track. If the Board of Education approves the  Triple T Committee-recommended plan, this natural turf field would be converted to artificial turf this summer.
Soon to be New: This is a view eastward across the Old Saybrook High School natural turf field and track. If the Board of Education approves the Triple T Committee-recommended plan, this natural turf field would be converted to artificial turf this summer. Photo by Becky Coffey/ Harbor News

OLD SAYBROOK - First there were five, then two, and now, just one.

After spending an hour reviewing the final four plan concepts and discussing their advantages and disadvantages, the Turf, Track, and Tennis Courts Building (Triple T) Committee last week was finally ready to choose.

"We took into consideration what the stakeholders wanted and thoroughly investigated [the options]. We looked at current use, and at what options will give us the best future options for field development," said Committee Co-Chair Philip Broadhurst. "We've had seven meetings, seen 11 plans-I think we need a motion now to present a plan to the Board of Education."

In a unanimous vote, the members of the Triple T Committee voted to recommend Site Plan Concept B, a plan that would put the artificial turf surface in place of the natural turf field now inside the Old Saybrook High School track oval. The plan also would rebuild the tennis courts in their current location and resurface the track.

Initially, this option was not all members' first choice, but at the end, all agreed it best met these goals: The town would not lose a field; converting natural turf to artificial turf on the football field preserved other site areas for future field expansions; and Concept B was within the
$1.75 million budget.

BSC Group's Luke McCoy has estimated Concept B's construction costs with a 10 percent contingency allowance at about $1.6 million. That price also included purchase of turf field maintenance equipment, track resurfacing, track and field fencing and gates, field end-zone netting, and replacement of the asphalt surface on the six tennis courts with a post-tensioned concrete surface.

The committee and McCoy will deliver a presentation to the Board of Education reviewing the process and presenting their plan recommendation on Tuesday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the Board of Education offices at 50 Sheffield Street.

"In talking with the student-athletes last week about where we are in the process, they said they are so excited to be getting a new field," said Old Saybrook High School Principal Sheila Riffle.

The Process

In October 2013, the town's voters approved $15.1 million to pay for various capital projects. Those projects included the replacement of the high school track, high school tennis courts, and installation of a new artificial turf multi-purpose athletic field at Old Saybrook High School.

Of the bonded authorization dollars, $1.75 million was allocated to support installation of the new turf field and to replace the track and tennis courts.

In November 2013, the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Education appointed the Triple T Subcommittee to oversee the design, bidding, and construction of the facilities.

The subcommittee's first step was to solicit Requests for Proposals (RFPs) from design and engineering firms with athletic facility and artificial turf experience. Eleven firms responded to the RFP and of those, the committee decided to interview three. BSC Group, led by McCoy, was the finalist firm that the subcommittee voted to recommend.

The next step was to identify the qualities that a successful athletic facility site plan for the high school property would need. To accomplish this, the subcommittee and McCoy invited coaches, students, administrators, and representatives of local sports organizations to come share their views for facility needs by priority: their wants, their needs, and finally, their must-haves.

With these specifications and facility attributes in hand, the group used aerial photographs to begin to brainstorm options for athletic facility arrangements. This process led to five distinct site plans that late last month were narrowed to several final options.

Next the final concepts were tested more thoroughly against the site's constraints to ensure that each concept would work if built. Among the site's constraints were electric power lines that parallel Donnelly's Drive and then go northeast along the property line and along the football practice and field hockey fields' northern edge.

Other constraints to different site plans were the school's septic system leach field located under the front athletic field on the Boston Post Road and changes in elevation and the presence of ledge on the land just north of the current football field.

"Interwoven into the [committee's] discussions and deliberations is the constant reminder of our charge. In October, the town voted to bond $1.75 million for the three projects. As responsible stewards, we have an obligation to present a plan to deliver the three projects on budget," said Triple T Committee Co-Chair Scott Giegerich.

If the Board of Education votes on March 25 to accept the committee's recommendation, McCoy would begin the design development phase of the project.

"We would recommend the town bid with one package to a general contractor that would do all the subcontracting. This approach will save costs on mobilization," McCoy told the committee.

McCoy said that if project approval comes this month, all of the athletic facility work should be completed by Sept. 15.

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