Visitors to Burlington High School, or anyone driving down that section of Cambridge Street, will likely notice significant work being done on Varsity Field as the entire field is re-turfed. .
Burlington Public Schools Director of Operations Bob Cunha said the entire facility, including the track, is closed and will remain so until at least the projected finish date of September 10. The department wanted to ensure the project will be completed by the first home game of the fall season that is scheduled for September 16.
It was a project long in the making that faced delays due to an inability of the contractor to get the necessary materials, an issue faced by other projects in town as worldwide supply chains were disrupted. Originally it was scheduled to begin on July 15 but was delayed until August 1. It was then further delayed another week and work finally began on August 8. Click here to see a short video of the work underway.
Cunha said the projected timeline is a week of tearing up the field followed by a couple of days of laser leveling and grading. They then anticipate delivery of the new turf on August 22 and that will take about two weeks to be installed followed by finishing touches.
When the $725,000 capital project to replace the field and track was originally before Town Meeting in May of 2021, Capital Budget Chair Adam Senesi, who said his committee voted 5-2-1 in favor of recommending the measure be passed, said they were told that sections of the field tested high on the GMAX scale, a way of testing artificial turf for safety.
Cunha explained that if even one section of the field failed this test by coming in too high the entire field would be unusable for any official school uses, including sports and events.
At the time there were some arguments to switch to real grass instead of artificial turf. The arguments against that included the cost of upkeep, the fact that a single game during wet conditions could lead to damage and that many more people than just school athletes use the field and a grass field more easily wears down.
Finally there are plans to replace the track that originally were to be done in the same project timeline. However, due to a lack of materials that has been delayed for roughly three weeks. Cunha said they expect to start the track in late September or early October. Fortunately, that project is only expected to take three days meaning the field will not be available for sports or band activities for that short timeframe.