BOE approves new turf field for Sandy Creek

BOE approves new turf field for Sandy Creek

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Sandy Creek played their spring football game on a muddy field last week, but they’ll be getting a new turf field in the fall. The county’s four other high schools will get theirs in coming years. (Staff Photo by Christopher Dunn)

Last week’s spring football game at Sandy Creek High School showcased some of the county’s best athletic talent, but it wasn’t without it challenges. Rain from days earlier had left the field a muddy mess, forcing changes to the game itself. Thankfully for the Patriots, that will not be a problem much longer. At Monday’s meeting, the Board of Education voted to install a new turf field for this fall.
A recent tour of all school athletic facilities around the county revealed Sandy Creek’s main field as one of the most pressing needs. A drainage issue is made worse by year-round use for games, competitions, and practices for football, soccer, track and field, and marching band.
“There is a real safety issue there, and we’ve got to be able to do something in the short term,” said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Barrow. “I know we have spent a lot of time looking at this and doing all the necessary research to make sure that we’re being very good stewards of the taxpayer’s dollars.”
The news should be greeted with enthusiasm at each of the other four high schools in Fayette. The plan is to use Sandy Creek as the blueprint, then replace the fields at the other schools over the next year or two.
“Absolutely that is our intention,” said Barrow, who noted that there have been meetings with the principals and athletic directors at each school with resounding support for the turf fields. “We also have four other high schools who have a very strong interest in moving in this direction.”
Barrow mentioned Mike Satterfield, Director of Facility Services, as a convert to the concept of turf fields, citing the long-term savings as a key benefit.
Board member Diane Basham agreed. “It’s hard to put a number on it and say this is going to pay for itself, but I think rational people are going to sit down and say this is going to be a win-win for this county.”
It cuts down on regular maintenance costs, plus the many man hours included. Board member Dan Colwell noted those man hours as one of the biggest savings from his talks with coaches around the county. “It’s getting more and more difficult to find the number of parents it takes to maintain those fields.”
On top of that, the fields are covered by an extensive eight-year warranty that covers more than eight hours of use a day.
The operation would be turnkey, meaning Satterfield’s staff would not be pulled away to work on it. The builders would be responsible for digging up and moving the irrigation system, cutting out about 10 to 12 inches of soil in the process, then replacing it with rock and an underground drainage system below the field.
The cost will be high in the short-term, but the board is looking at what is the best for the county in the longterm, according to member Dr. Barry Marchman. “We’re committed to making the best 20-year decisions, not the best six-month decisions,” said Marchman. “If you look at the financial analysis, this is a good 20-year decision.”
The Board unanimously approved the new field for Sandy Creek. The total dollar amount for the new Sandy Creek field was not available as of press time Friday.

Christopher Dunn

Managing Editor Christopher Dunn has been with the Fayette County News since 2011, in addition to running Fayette Victory magazine. He is a graduate of Fayette County schools, as well as a graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in journalism. Follow him on twitter @fayettesports.