Barrington officials remain focused on athletic fields

Contractor agrees to install rolled sod turf on baseball infield at middle school

By Josh Bickford
Posted 5/6/21

Use of the new athletic fields at Barrington Middle School has been delayed.

The fields were expected to be available this spring, but an official said that sports teams would not be allowed to …

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Barrington officials remain focused on athletic fields

Contractor agrees to install rolled sod turf on baseball infield at middle school

Posted

Use of the new athletic fields at Barrington Middle School has been delayed.

The fields were expected to be available this spring, but an official said that sports teams would not be allowed to play on the natural grass surface until the fall. 

Patrick Guida, the co-chairman of the Barrington School Building Committee, said the playing surface was not in satisfactory condition heading into the spring season. 

“…when you’re dealing with plants, they don’t always cooperate the way you would like them to,” Mr. Guida said.

There had been some concern that the fields might not be available for the fall season either, but Mr. Guida recently said that the contractor for the middle school construction project, Brait Builders, had agreed to install sod turf on the infield of the baseball diamond. He said that Brait officials volunteered to make the change in order to make the fields available for play sooner. 

“We believe this will help because the infield is the area that’s going to get the most wear,” Mr. Guida said, adding that “the rolled sod turf should provide a better solution to what we had anticipated.”

Mr. Guida said school officials have been very pleased with the majority of the middle school construction, including recent news of the $4.3 million surplus on the $68.4 million project. One of the few areas of the work to frustrate officials has been the athletic fields.

“The fields are still not in satisfactory condition,” Mr. Guida said. 

The school building committee official said the original plan called for the athletic fields to be seeded. He said the contractor followed planting protocols but the seed “just didn’t take” as well as planned. 

He added “We knew from the get-go… it would be ambitious for the fields to be ready for this spring.”

Mr. Guida also said that Brait Builder was covering the cost for installing the sod turf.

The installation of the new sod turf has been delayed, however, as the new well pump for the in-ground irrigation system is not working. According to a source, officials tried to turn on the well-pump a number of times recently but it wouldn’t work. The cause of the problem was not clear. 

Million dollar fields

Youth sports leagues in town are looking forward to the return of the middle school athletic fields. 

Prior to construction, the middle school had offered some of the best athletic fields in Barrington — in fact, officials had spent nearly $1 million decades earlier to renovate the fields.

But when work began on the new middle school, those once pristine fields were used as the footprint for the new building. Meanwhile, sports league officials scrambled to find enough space to host practices and games for soccer, lacrosse, baseball and football. Each season, the town works with sports league leaders to try to accommodate their requests for field space, and at the same time not over-tax the available fields. 

More than a year ago, the town formed the Ad Hoc Athletic Field Advisory Committee to study the athletic fields in town. The Committee has four working groups that are focused on different parts of the issue: finances; field use and scheduling; maintenance and acquisition; and artificial turf.

The committee has also been discussing the possible renovation of field spaces at Haines Park. The Committee commissioned a plan for Haines Park — although it has not been formally recommended — that includes the construction of a lacrosse/soccer field in the right field portion of the large baseball diamond closer to Washington Road. It also calls for the small baseball diamond toward the west end of the park to be re-positioned, making room for another lacrosse/soccer field. 

The plan, said a Committee member, was shared with state officials as the town proposed the creation of a 30-year lease agreement for Haines — the park is owned by the state, but Barrington is granted priority use of the field in exchange for maintaining the grounds.

Renovated Haines Park fields are just a piece of the athletic fields puzzle in town, however. 

Committee members are also considering other measures to improve the athletic fields, including potentially installing artificial turf at Barrington High School. Officials are discussing putting turf at Victory Field as well as other sections of the BHS campus. 

In late April, Committee members were planning to visit a newly-installed artificial turf field at East Providence High School. The field, said one Committee member, was completely recyclable and better for the environment and the athletes using it.

Some officials are hoping to have a formal recommendation from the Ad Hoc Athletic Field Advisory Committee by the end of the school year.

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