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Yarmouth's new turf field on time, on budget

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Yarmouth's new turf field on time, on budget

YARMOUTH — The grass will always be greener at Yarmouth High School, thanks to a swath of newly installed artificial turf at its athletic field.

The $1.5 million project, which includes a new press box and wheelchair ramp on the grandstand and resurfacing of the running track, is on schedule and on budget. The work will be completed just in time for the new school year.

Artificial turf at Yarmouth High School is nothing new. About a decade ago, the school was one of the first in Maine to install artificial turf. But the fabric reached the end of its usable life in 2012, according to a report from the school superintendent.

The new turf is notable for two reasons: It has more padding and it can readily accommodate five different sports.

Monroe Jordan, project manager for Sprinturf, took a short break on a recent afternoon to explain the field's colorful and myriad hash marks, radii, lines, boxes and circles that are permanently glued down.

"There are five sports inlaid in one field, and the lines are all permanent," Jordan explained. "There's no painting, no marking, no nothing. When I put it in, it's done."

Each sport has its own color scheme. Football lines are white, soccer lines are yellow, boys' lacrosse lines are blue, girls' lacrosse lines are light blue, field hockey lines are black.

Susan Robbins, athletic director for the school, said the mix of colored lines might create some initial confusion, but ultimately it was the right choice.

"Paint costs a lot of money to put on those surfaces, so if we can stitch them in, we'll never have to repaint the lines," she said.

The turf will host its first practice on Aug. 19 and its first game on Sept. 6. At some point during the early fall, the field will be closed for about a week while a maintenance crew resurfaces the running track that surrounds the field. During that time, the entire field and grandstand will be covered with plastic, said Town Engineer Steve Johnson.

"It's like masking for spray painting a car," he said. "You have to mask the stuff you don't want the overspray to get onto."

The project was funded entirely through a $1.5 million bond that voters approved last November by a relatively slim, 54 percent majority, 2,898 to 2,502. (By comparison, a more recent $1.5 million bond proposal to renovate Merrill Memorial Library passed in June with a whopping 74 percent majority, 1,422 to 476.)

Johnson said $1.2 million was awarded to David White & Sons, which was responsible for earthwork and managing subcontractors. The remaining funds went toward grandstand work.

"We will be on budget; exactly on budget," Johnson said.

The scope of the work changed somewhat during the course of the project. Originally, the plan called for improved drainage at the site, but it was deemed unnecessary after the old turf was removed and workers were able to take a closer look, Johnson said.

The savings from the drainage proposal were applied toward buying pit covers for track events, track repairs and more.

The new turf is expected to last more than a decade, Johnson said.

"It's a beautiful facility," he said. "Folks will be very proud of this."

Three soccer players from Yarmouth High School agreed with Johnson's assessment. The boys were out catching a glimpse of the new field while a dozen workers from Sprinturf worked on the lines.

"I think it looks great," said varsity captain Chandler Smith. "I'm really looking forward to preseason when we can step on to it."

The old turf had some advantages – the ball rolled fast, for instance – but the drawbacks were painful, they said.

"It was fantastic how fast the ball was, but the turf burns were bad," Smith said. "The cuts and burns from sliding stung a lot."

Senior Wyatt Jackson said some athletes developed staph infections from abrasions they'd received on the old surface. Pebbles embedded in old turf could get stuck in skin, too.

"It was definitely time to replace it," he said.

Ben McCanna can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or bmccanna@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @BenMcCanna.