December 9, 2019

Engineering Firm to Present Work to Date on Turf Field Project at Tonight’s BOE Meeting, Public Welcome

This playing field behind Lyme-Old Lyme High School is the proposed site of the turf field, which will be discussed at the Region 18 Board of Education meeting Wednesday evening. The engineering firm Milone and MacBroom will present information regarding the project at the meeting.

LYME-OLD LYME — (Based on a Press Release from Lyme-Old Lyme Schools) In the November 2017 issue of  ‘Focus on Education’, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools published an article about the background to the proposed installation of a turf field.  The article has now been updated to reflect recent actions by the Region 18 Board of Education.

If you have attended any of the Lyme-Old Lyme recent athletic contests, you may have noticed that Lyme-Old Lyme High School has two of the finest grass playing surfaces in the area. These surfaces are maintained without the use of any pesticides and with the added burden of supporting daily practices by multiple athletic teams and physical education programs. Over the past few years, Region 18’s efforts to support these fields for safe play has been a struggle.

Despite being so close to the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound, the greatest challenge in maintaining Region 18 playing fields is a limited water supply. Even with a newly-drilled well, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools continue to find that their water needs — which support regular water usage (cooking, toilets, sinks, etc.) for their main campus, Old Lyme’s Town Hall and Fire Department, Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau, and the Old Lyme Historical Society, combined with the need to irrigate their playing fields — have exceeded their water system capacity.

During two recent summers, Region 18 had to purchase tanker trucks of water to avoid losing the grass on their athletic fields. It was this water supply issue that pushed the Region 18 Board of Education to develop a special committee to review and research the current state of the district’s athletic fields and develop a long-term plan to address its water issues.

This committee, which included 22 members, was made up of people from the community, board of education representatives, and school employees. The committee’s charge was to evaluate the district’s three multipurpose athletic fields and develop a recommendation for facility improvements, which best serves the long-term needs of the school district and the community.

The committee’s work was supported by the expertise of an engineering firm, which evaluated all aspects of Region 18’s facility including water sources, field use, and field location. The committee recommended utilizing a two-pronged approach to address water usage and the demands of Lyme-Old Lyme Schools’ athletic and physical education programs.

The field between the middle and high schools is one of the district’s two irrigated fields.

At their October 2017 meeting, the Region 18 Board of Education voted to approve the use of funds to support the design and bidding of a dedicated system that would supply water to the district’s two irrigated athletic fields, leaving the remainder of their water supply for potable use.

In June 2019, after many months of work with town committees, as well as with the neighbors of Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, who share ownership of the pond behind the high school, a pump system was installed that allows the district to use a limited amount of pond water to supplement its irrigation water supply. During the summer of 2019, this new system was successfully utilized to support the irrigation of two of the district’s three fields.

The varsity field behind Center School is the second of the district’s two irrigated fields.

Also at their October 2017 meeting, the board of education approved the committee’s second recommendation to pursue the concept of submitting an artificial turf field project to the Town of Old Lyme commissions for approval with associated design firm support. The second recommendation will allow the district to pursue the concept of installing a synthetic field behind Lyme-Old Lyme High School allowing multiple teams to practice and play at the same time regardless of the weather.

This proposal will also reduce the overuse of the two grass fields whose irrigation needs have exceeded our water supply. The construction of such a playing surface would be funded from the board’s sinking fund for capital projects and therefore would not impact the annual budget. The funding for this second recommendation was approved at the October 2019 board of education meeting.

At that meeting, the Board of Education approved the hiring of Milone and MacBroom to complete the initial artificial field design as well as to obtain local commission approvals. This next step will be completed during the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Following this phase of the project, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools will be prepared to complete the construction documents, refine the project estimate, and establish a project timeline for field installation.

As Lyme-Old Lyme Schools move forward with this project, the board looks forward to input from the community. At the Wednesday, Dec. 4, board of education meeting, Milone and MacBroom will present information regarding this project. The public is encouraged to attend.

Once the initial design phase is complete, there will be multiple opportunities to learn about the process as well as ask questions of the design firm. For more information, visit Region18.org.

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Comments

  1. Christina Gotowka says

    Has anyone looked into the impact of the use of fertilizer on the athletic fields and what the run off has done to the head of the Duck River?

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