Progress on the Methacton High School (MHS) field’s improvement project continues. Our previous update noted that early delays could impact the initial timeline established for substantial completion by August 7, 2015. “At this point, while we are making progress, we have concerns about meeting the initial timeline which may impact season start on August 17, 2015,” Superintendent Dr. David Zerbe explained.
In order to take a proactive approach to addressing these concerns, Dr. Zerbe recommended that the Board authorize the hiring of a construction management firm, and during their May meeting, the Board approved a contract with Fidevia, of Litiz, Pennsylvania to assist the district with keeping the construction project on schedule, while keeping costs and change orders to a minimum. At the June meeting, Dr. Zerbe asked that the Board extend the terms of the agreement with Fidevia, in order to allow the firm to address the administration’s further concerns with the progress on the project, and work with the district through the project’s completion.
“Our concerns require Fidevia’s assistance in managing both the agreement and the scope of the project outside of what we are currently doing in house, and as such for us to be successful in meeting our target dates,” Dr. Zerbe explained during the meeting.
The substantial completion of the two synthetic fields, stadium track, and the two softball fields was originally slated for August 7, 2015. Substantial completion means that the improvements are safe to use for practice and play, but are not finalized with all construction details. This original substantial completion date was established to allow for Methacton High School athletics and marching band practice to begin as planned for August 17, 2015. The original contract stated that final completion of the improvements were due September 19, 2015.
Since the project began in March, change orders totaling $349,165.74 have been submitted for work including modifications to the stormwater management areas, rock relocation, electrical conduit installation, removal of excess rock, and modifications to the turf infill material. Based upon a these change orders, as well as a number of issues including weather, additional unforeseen requirements, and on premises revisions; the substantial completion dates have been extended. The new dates are as follows:
Our intent is to have the auxiliary field ready for practice and play first. This allows for multiple sports/band to utilize this area while the stadium field is completed the following week. This also allows the new track surface to cure for an additional two to three weeks. This means that the stadium field will not be accessible for use until the stadium track surface, which surrounds the field, has cured. This access is planned for August 31, 2015.
As a result of these changes, the formulation of contingency plans for the fall athletic season are being communicated. MHS Assistant Principal for Athletics and Activities, Paul Spiewak, has prepared a field contingency plan with alternative field locations for practices in August and games in September. These plans have been distributed to coaches, who are communicating directly with student athletes and their families. An additional detailed update on the field project and these plans will be presented to parents, coaches, and athletes in August; as well as posted to the district’s website.
“Our main focus is to mitigate any disruption to the students’ season, and I’m confident that these plans do that,” Mr. Spiewak noted, “It’s disappointing that we can’t start off the school year on the new fields, but our community has waited a long time for these improvements and we won’t let these minor delays dampen our excitement for what’s to come for many years down the road.”
Progress photos of the project can be found in the fields update area of the district’s website here. Currently, the stormwater management portion of the project is nearly complete, as basins and swales have been established with stabilization seeding having taken place on some berms, slopes, and in the stormwater basin. Additional plantings will be forthcoming. Rough grading of walkways to the softball fields has begun; and on the auxiliary field, excavation of the surface and installation of the electrical conduit for the future installation of lights is complete.
In the stadium, demolition has occurred removing the old scoreboard, as well as the old fencing and other existing features. New electrical conduits have been installed to support lighting and power requirements. Subgrade has been established on the field in order to prepare it for the next steps in installing the artificial turf. Drainage pipe has been installed around the perimeter of the stadium, and forming is underway to accept the attachment of the artificial turf.
In the shotput area, curbing is completed and stone is in place to prepare the shotput landing area.
Field lighting remains in the Court of Common Pleas where we are hopeful that a resulting action will allow a timely opportunity to install lighting services at the pole height and illumination levels appropriate for safe play while remaining compliant with the township ordinance and minimizing overall expense associated with a retrofit of lighting following completion of all other aspects.
“Even as we face continued construction challenges, I remain excited for the completion of this project,” Dr. Zerbe said, “These improvements will provide for safer practice and play conditions along with creating lasting improvements for the high school, placing our athletic facilities on par with our excellence in education. This ultimately provides benefit to our community by creating a highly attractive destination for families to make Methacton their home,” he added.