Drainage Woes Plague Barnegat High School Football Field

By Eric Englund | Jul 31, 2019

Barnegat — Due to flooding problems, the Barnegat High School football field will be in for a major makeover. School officials will soon have to decide whether to replace its natural grass surface.

District Superintendent Brian Latwis said if the district opts for an artificial turf surface, the cost is estimated at $1.2 million with 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. The work would entail ripping up the current field and replacing the drainage system. The irrigation system would be removed and not reinstalled.

It the district stays with natural grass, the price is estimated at $875,000 along with $40,000 to $50,000 in yearly maintenance costs. Both the drainage and irrigation systems would have to be replaced along with the existing grass surface.

“It probably wouldn’t be ready for the fall 2020 season, and we’re mostly looking at having it done by the start of the spring in 2021,” said Latwis. “Of course, you don’t know how the weather is going to impact the work in both of the cases.”

Latwis said the board of education building and grounds committee would look over proposals and then present the results to the full board for a vote. He hoped the board could go out to bid in September and award a contract in October or November.

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, and graduation ceremonies along with other special events.

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.”

— Eric Englund


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