WESTFIELD, NJ — Preparations for a $3.03 million overhaul of Gary Kehler Stadium have started with the recent demolition of bleachers.

The planned renovation of the stadium includes replacing the bleachers, along with the stadium’s aging turf field, track and bathrooms. Installed 13 years ago, the field is showing signs of wear, but the timing of the field remake set for the spring track season has had some people concerned.

School Business Administrator Dana Sullivan told the Board of Education this week the renovations started at the stadium along Rahway Avenue.

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“Many of you have probably seen them taking the bleachers down,” Sullivan said. “They’re starting along the front of Rahway there, so we’re moving along.”

The timing of the renovations, which school officials said were delayed due to a challenge from a competing bidder, sparked objections from members of the high school’s track teams, most of who are anticipated to be unable to use the track during the renovations.

Responding to the concern, school officials agreed to move the construction one month earlier and outlined plans to have the teams practice at other tracks.

Under the school district’s agreement with Your Way Construction Inc., of Irvington, the contractor will conduct the renovations April 8 – July 31. The firm would face $500-a-day fines for each day the work is not finished beyond the completion date, the contract stipulates.

School officials have maintained that although the field is nearing the end of its useful life, it is safe for athletes’ use.

Documents obtained by TAPinto Westfield show varying test results for the field, including in 2016 deeper than normal infill causing the field to be slower underfoot, and lead found in yellow fibers in 2008. School officials previously said both issues have been addressed.

Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh

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