TURF DECISIONS: Blackstone Valley Tech self-funds athletics field restoration

BVT Field Work 1

BVT athletic field restoration – photo submitted by BVT

UPTON – Ever mindful of its commitment to live within its conservative one-time operational request, Blackstone Valley Tech is undertaking several summer improvements to its 50-year-old facility and campus, including restoration of its main athletics field.

Restoration of the athletics field is one of Valley Tech’s largest summer projects, several of which are financed via funding secured by the Superintendent-Director in a legal settlement and earmarked exclusively for capital improvement. Groundbreaking on the restoration project marked the first major work on the field in 15 years. In that time, Valley Tech athletics have grown in size and success and the field has experienced the natural, yet significant, wear and tear of hosting the school’s freshman, junior varsity, and varsity programs in football, track and field, soccer, and lacrosse. Faced with the need to preserve the field for years to come, school officials chose the most fiscally conservative option.

“While we would have liked to opt for an artificial turf field, doing so was simply outside of the means in which we operate,” explained Superintendent-Director Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick.

The $226,059.88 restoration price tag is roughly one-quarter the construction cost of a typical artificial turf field, according to Fitzpatrick, who said that tackling a necessary project while looking out for the best interest of students and member communities is in line with Valley Tech’s track record.

“Our multi-town regional system simply does not present its thirteen municipal members with special town meeting funding requests for capital improvement projects,” Fitzpatrick said. “In recent history, Valley Tech self-funded a roof renovation, roof replacement, and construction of new state-of-the-art science laboratories with no impact to member town assessments. We can now proudly add our athletics field restoration to the list of creatively financed capital projects.”

A crew from Sports Turf Specialties of Wrentham, including several vocational technical high school graduates, is currently performing the restoration project, which will replenish the field’s subsoil before rolling out a new layer of sod. The field’s drainage and pitch will be enhanced to prevent water from building up on the natural turf and a new irrigation system utilizing well-drawn water will allow for watering of the field at ideal times of day. While the field and its surrounding track are closed to the public for the project’s duration, Fitzpatrick expressed gratitude for the cooperation of local runners and walkers accustomed to utilizing the track as a return on their investment in Valley Tech.

The restoration and improved methods of maintenance are expected to preserve the field’s integrity for at least ten years, at which time Valley Tech hopes to fund construction of an artificial turf field through a capital fundraising campaign. The school remains committed, however, to delaying any such initiative until it can afford to advance it.

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