Ground rules for upcoming new artificial turf at Rome Free Academy Stadium were questioned by some Board of Education members before approving purchases for new turf and an adjacent new track surface at the site.
The board’s unanimous approvals Thursday night of purchases including about $666,000 for the field turf and about $1.4 million for the track surface followed discussions about proposed end-zone lettering on the turf and about the company handling the turf project.
Plans call for work to begin next week, and it “should be done by Sept. 18” as the target date, school district Superintendent Peter C. Blake told the board.
The board approvals, through cooperative/”piggyback” purchasing arrangements, include FieldTurf USA, Inc. for the turf and Nagle Athletic Surfaces, Inc. for the track surface.
Among questions raised by board members:
• Paul Hagerty said he “would like some dialogue” regarding the decision to include the words “Black Knights” on the turf in each end zone for football.
Noting that soccer goals are placed in the back of the end zones for soccer games and there are “already a lot of lines” in what is a critical and “busy area” for soccer, Hagerty asked “why add the additional conflict” of the lettering. He also referred to creating potential confusion.
Blake said the lettering was requested by district Athletic Director Michael Stamboly, adding “from a personal opinion...if we’re going to spend that kind of money...we should give our students the most attractive field we possibly can give them.”
Board member Paul Fitzpatrick told Hagerty that after looking at the field plans, “I kind of see what you mean” regarding the concerns. Fitzpatrick added “I think we need to look at that.”
Board President Stephen P. Hampe asked whether there could be “additional discussion” of the matter, and Blake said there can be. He said after the meeting that the district’s architect, LaBella Associates, will attend a board meeting in July to discuss the stadium work, adding there could be time to revise the lettering if needed.
Board member John Leonard cautioned that the project details should be checked to determine if changes in specifications could delay overall completion.
• Board member Tanya Davis expressed concerns about the Field Turf USA, Inc. company and the longevity of the turf that will be installed, noting she had researched it online and found some issues with prior work in other school districts.
Blake said he can ask the LaBella company for details regarding the specific turf to be installed. Davis also asked about the process for choosing the Field Turf USA company, and Blake said the architect and construction manager companies used by the school district selected the Field Turf company through the cooperative purchasing process.
Leonard said of the LaBella company that such decisions are what the district is paying the company for, and if there is an issue then “it’s their issue too.”
Davis asked about the warranty for the new turf, and some board members observed it is eight years according to the