Barnegat Athletic Field Getting Artificial Turf Makeover

By Eric Englund | Nov 20, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill The athletic field during the Barnegat Township High School graduation on June 21.

Barnegat — Last week, the Barnegat Township Board of Education awarded a $1.4 million bid to replace the high school football field with artificial turf.

The work will be done by Landtek at a cost of $1.4 million. The Long Island-based company was the lowest of four bidders.

Bill Edwards, the school district engineer, said that when the field underwent construction in 2002, its design was faulty.

“The crown of the field did not have enough of a slope so that the water would not run off sufficiently,” he said. “Instead, it allowed for more water to collect. And the drainage system itself wasn’t built to be able to handle that amount of water.”

The field opened along with the high school in September 2004. Aside from football, the facility is also used for boys and girls soccer and lacrosse, graduation ceremonies and with other special events.

District Superintendent Brian Latwis said the artificial turf has an estimated life of 10 to 12 years, at which time the replacement cost would be $450,000. He said the project could be finished by the second half of the spring sports season in 2020. The work would entail ripping up the current field and replacing the drainage system. The irrigation system would be removed and not reinstalled.

“If we had stayed with natural grass, the price would have been $875,000,” said Latwis. “But that would have come with an annual $50,000 in yearly maintenance costs. Both the drainage and irrigation systems would have to be replaced along with the existing grass surface. And it probably wouldn’t have been ready until the 2021 spring season.”

Latwis said that one advantage of the synthetic surface is that games could be played back-to-back.

“On a natural grass field, you have to wait 48 hours between games,” said Latwis. “Now, if there’s a soccer game at 3, we could still have a football game at 7.”

John Germano, athletic director, said the flooding and drainage problems gradually worsened over the last several years. He said the problem mostly affects the westerly side of the field.

“Sometimes it looks like the teams are playing in a swamp,” he said. “If it rains hard on Monday, we can’t play on Tuesday, even if it is a really nice, sunny day.”

Germano said he has had to move some soccer and lacrosse games to the junior varsity field.

“We had to do that with a girls lacrosse opening playoff round game,” he said. “I have some flexibility in rescheduling soccer or lacrosse games, but not with football. Those games can be played on Friday or Saturday.”

Germano added, “I’m very glad that this is going to be done. In the long run, the artificial turf field is in our best interests.”

— Eric Englund

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