Published DateLACONIA — The ongoing construction of the new football field behind the high school has temporarily stopped after storm water from the upper practice field breached one retaining wall during last Sunday's downpour.
The runoff from the breached area cascaded down to the playing field and onto the new utility field that is just behind the school.
The estimate to install additional and in some cases, modify existing drainage is about $50,000, however none of the design and engineering work has been done.
The good news, said School District District Business Manager Ed Emond, is that if the damage had happened after the synthetic turf on Jim Fitzgerald Field had been installed, the damage could have been upwards of a quarter-million dollars.
The news was made public at a specially-convened meeting of the city's Joint Building Committee on Wednesday night.
Though not thrilled with what he thinks are some design flaws and "broken-hearted" when he saw the damage, Committee Co-Chair Bob Hamel (City Councicl, Ward 5) said it was almost a "blessing in disguise" because the committee and engineers could see the weak points in the drainage system before the job was completed.
Project Manager and lead engineer Chad Montrose said there were two significant recent storms — one on June 22 and one on June 29. The June 29 storm dumped two inches of rain in the area in 30 minutes.
Montrose also said the fields are "active construction sites" and had the grass on the upper (Bobotas) field had had enough time to grow it roots, the damage would not have been so severe.
The three new fields are constructed in tiers — each tier higher that the other, with the all purpose field at the lowest western point on the property and the practice field on the highest, eastern point. The new all-weather athletic field is in the middle and is crowned so there is no puddling in the middle. The upper field and the all purpose field are slightly pitched – about 1-3/4 percent from corner to corner on a diagonal. Engineers said up to a 2-percent pitch is standard and the Opechee fields are pitched at two percent.
Once the synthetic turf is installed, it is designed to drain straight down into a specially designed bed of crushed stone. Montose said it appears that the stone bed is over-compressing and not as porous as it should be. His recommendation is to remove about four inches of the eight inches of stone bed.
Members Henry Lipman and Hamel expressed concern about who was going to pay for what.
Montose said any additional drainage and design work is "value added" and should be paid for by the city and School District. He said any damage to the field caused by engineering faults or during construction should be born by the contractors.
"Any design issues will be our responsibility," Montose said. "Our goal is to fix this once."
Moving forward, committee members said they wanted the upper practice field fixed before the synthetic turf is installed. Although sodding the field instead of sowing it would fix the problem faster, all agreed they would rather plant seed than sod because the root system would be better for drainage. Also it would cost $40,000 to sod the field while seed costs significantly less money.
Emond said the first home football game is September 6 and football practice is scheduled to begin on August 1. He said it was better to find another place for practice so they can be ready to install the synthetic field.
At the worst, Emond said they could switch the first home game to an away game if it was absolutely necessary.
The committee decided to allow the c-chairs — Hamel and School Board Chair Joe Cormier — to approve the new design plans. It also voted to withhold $108,000 from the $682,000 from the recent payment to Harvey Construction, who subcontracted Hiltz to install the drainage system.
Montrose said he expected to meet with all the contractors and subcontractors no later than Friday and report to Hamel and Cormier by Monday or Tuesday.
CUTLINE -(Hamel) Joint Building Committee Co-chair Bob Hamel makes a point at the special meeting Wednesday night regarding the damage to the under-construction fields behind the Laconia High School.
(MAP) The blue lines indicate where the drainage runs along the three new fields behind the high school. Hand-drwn circles indicate area that engineers feel need improvement and where the problems stemming from two recent significant storms were.