The high school football season is over, and renovation work has started at Blankenship Field.
The City of Oak Ridge and Oak Ridge Schools have both posted photos of the start of the work.
On Wednesday, the City of Oak Ridge said maintenance crews from Oak Ridge Schools were doing preliminary work, including removing irrigation, fencing, and sod.
“Heavy machinery will arrive with the contractors soon,” the city said in a post published on Twitter. “We can’t wait to see the finished product next year!”
“Before the rain began, our maintenance department made substantial progress moving turf from Blankenship Field to Ben Martin Field (at Oak Ridge High School),” Oak Ridge Schools said in a post published on Twitter on Saturday. “Excavation will begin early next week, weather permitting. Stay tuned for more updates as they come in.”
In June, the Oak Ridge City Council approved a contract worth up to $800,000 to buy and install synthetic turf at Blankenship Field.
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.
The contract was awarded to Field Turf USA Inc. of Montreal in Quebec, Canada. The company has a regional office in Calhoun, Georgia.
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation provided about half of the funding through a state grant. The rest of the funding, along with any additional costs not covered under the grant, are to be provided by the Blankenship Field Revitalization Foundation.
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.
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,” Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said in a memo in June. “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 hadn’t started earlier, 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.
You can see our previous stories on Blankenship Field here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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