Note: This story was published at 4:15 p.m. June 19 and updated at 6 p.m. June 20.
The Oak Ridge City Council on Tuesday approved a $800,000 contract to buy and install synthetic turf at Blankenship Field.
Council approved the contract in 5-0 vote during a special meeting Tuesday evening in the Multipurpose Room in the Central Services Complex in central Oak Ridge.
The contract was awarded to Field Turf USA Inc. of Montreal in Quebec, Canada. The company has a regional office in Calhoun, Georgia.
The contract says the purchase and installation of the synthetic turf are not to exceed $800,000. That amount includes the Field Turf quote of $755,879, plus a contingency fee for additional unexpected costs, such as addressing unsuitable soils. The Field Turf quote is provided by the National Joint Powers Alliance, or NJPA, a purchasing cooperative approved by the state of Tennessee, Oak Ridge City Manager Mark S. Watson said in a memo to City Council on Monday. Council approved an agreement between the City of Oak Ridge and NJPA at a March 12 meeting, Watson said.
The synthetic turf will replace the existing Bermuda grass on Blankenship Field, which is used for high school and middle school football games and high school graduation.
It’s not clear if the work will be done before the first home football game on August 24. Watson told Council members during Tuesday’s special meeting that it would be “highly difficult” to finish the work by then, but it’s possible the project could be complete by August 31.
There is some additional work to be done, including a 21-day “mobilization period” and a 28-day construction period, Watson said.
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, which is providing about half of the funding through a state grant, has to approve the contract, Watson said, and there will be some negotiations related to the turf.
City officials should know more in the next five to seven days, Watson said.
Approving the contract on Monday were Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch, Mayor Pro Tem Rick Chinn, and City Council members Kelly Callison, Jim Dodson, and Hans Vogel. Council members Chuck Hope and Ellen Smith were absent.
City Council agreed in March 2016 to apply for a state grant for the project. Later, the TDEC Recreation Educational Services awarded a $496,000 Local Parks and Recreation Fund grant to the city, with a match of $496,000 required. That’s a total of $992,000 in available funding.
“Funding for the grant, along with any additional costs not covered under the grant, will be provided by the Blankenship Field Revitalization Foundation,” Watson told Council members.
On Tuesday, Oak Ridge City Attorney Ken Krushenski said the foundation has the funds available.
The rest of the available funds will be used for other parts of the project, including resurfacing of the track around the field, installation of a new accessible restroom, and improvements to the adjacent Cedar Hill Greenway trailhead.
“Replacement of the Bermuda grass turf field with a synthetic turf sports field will allow the field to be played on in inclement weather, reducing the likelihood of rain-delayed or canceled football games for the middle school and high school teams,” Watson said in his memo on Monday. “In addition, regular maintenance will be reduced, and the synthetic turf will allow the field to be opened to the public for general recreation and special events.”
Accepting the state grant means the field must be open to the public.
The Field Turf proposal includes roughly $350,000 for about 79,000 square feet of site work and roughly $332,000 for synthetic turf (Field Turf Revolution 360), about $7,000 for inlaid football markings, and close to $6,200 for maintenance equipment.
Officials had expected to start the renovation work at Blankenship Field this past January and finish by this June. It wasn’t immediately clear why the work hasn’t started yet, but there have been some reports of administrative hurdles associated with the state grant.
The City Council considered an in-kind design agreement for renovation work at Blankenship Field and Jack Armstrong Stadium in February. It was to be an in-kind donation to the project valued at up to $50,000 and used to help meet the requirement to have matching funds for the state Local Park and Recreation Fund grant.
Other area high schools have also installed synthetic turf in the past few years.
The Tuesday evening special meeting was followed by a non-voting work session, also at the Central Services Complex. Items on the work session agenda included a review and discussion of the process to fill the City Council vacancy created when Council member Hans Vogel resigned to move for a new job at Idaho National Laboratory, a progress report on and discussion of service enhancements at the Farmers Market, an update on capital projects this summer to Oak Ridge facilities and roads, and general updates from Watson regarding the Friendship Bell, July 4 fireworks, and a letter to the National Nuclear Security Administration regarding a draft supplement analysis for the Y-12 Site-wide Environmental Impact Statement.
You can see the agenda for the Tuesday evening special meeting here.
You can see the work session agenda here.
You can see our previous stories on Blankenship Field here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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