NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – Plans are underway for the building of a new turf field at the middle school/high school campus in North Salem.

On Wednesday, Feb. 5, the district’s design team, construction manager, architectural team and financial adviser presented the master plan for the Athletic Fields Improvement Project for the first time at their Board of Education meeting.

The project includes the construction of a new artificial-turf field on the west side of campus complete with a press box and concession stand, 300-seat bleachers, field lighting, ADA-compliant pedestrian paths, a 12-foot-wide access road, lighting from the school to the field, perimeter security fencing, ball-stop netting, and a digital LED scoreboard.

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In addition to the new field, included in the project is the addition of new gender-neutral restrooms attached to the school and drainage improvements to Tompkins Field.

Overall, the estimated cost of the Athletic Fields Improvement Project is $6.9 million. North Salem would borrow money in the form of a bond, which would be paid back over 17 years.

The new field, which will be used for soccer, lacrosse and field hockey, as well as a practice area for baseball and softball, would be a synthetic turf with encapsulated sand or polymer elastomer infill with an absorption pad and drains underneath.

According to Armand Quadrini from KSQ Design, the design team behind the project, the artificial turf will allow for more playability on the field. It will eliminate the need to wait for the field to drain after rain or snow and can be used earlier in the spring and later in the fall, which will allow North Salem to be competitive with other districts.

The positioning of the field in the west of the campus fits the design team’s criteria such as ideal lighting, a north-south orientation for the field, accessibility to the main campus, and parking. It would also allow improvements or additions to be made over time.

At the meeting, design consultants said positioning the field to its proposed location has brought the cost of rock removal and crushing down from $2 million to $900,000.

East of the field, attached to the left side of the middle and high school gyms, would be the new external gender-neutral restrooms.

In order to secure building aid from the state, the bathrooms are required to be attached to the school.

It would also eliminate extra maintenance for outdoor bathrooms, like the annual draining of water and pipes in the colder months.

“Our design and construction team brings substantial experience with this type of project to our district,” said Deb D’Agostino, school board president. “We put them to work early so that they are able to help anticipate and mitigate costs. The current location of the field and the location of utilities are examples of cost avoidance.”

Andy Rymph, from the Chazen Companies, presented the Tompkins Field drainage project at the meeting.

Rather than replacing the existing field, drainage improvements will be made by installing strip drains, a type of tubing system that will allow pockets for water every 25 feet.

In addition to the new drainage system, some maintenance and cleaning are required on the catch basins.

The $6.9-million estimate covers all components of the project, including general and temporary conditions, the new turf field with the bleachers, press box and concession stand, the drainage improvements at Tompkins Field, the external bathroom addition, as well as construction costs and soft costs which cover design, management, testing and construction contingencies.

At the Feb. 5 Board of Education meeting, the board adopted a resolution declaring them the lead agency of the project and will initiate an environmental review at the state level (State Environmental Quality Review).

On Wednesday, March 11, the board is expected to establish the final scope of the project and the engineers can evaluate the final cost.

According to the projections prepared by consultants, the project’s completion could be as early as 2021.

It was recommended by the consultants that the new turf field be installed before the improvements at Tompkins Field are made, as the drainage installation would cause the field to be out of commission for at least one season.

“Personally, I am impressed with the high quality and detailed work done by the design team, construction manager and financial adviser so that the board will be fully informed when it votes on March 11 to move this Athletic Fields Improvement project forward to the voters in May,” said Superintendent Ken Freeston.