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Quaker Valley scores $439K deal for new field turf

| Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Quaker Valley athletes and community groups who use Chuck Knox Stadium next fall will be greeted with a new artificial turf district leaders say will be safer.

Board members last week approved, 8-1, spending about $439,500 to replace turf at the stadium in Leetsdale.

Board member Marianne Wagner voted no, citing unknown costs of any drainage work beneath the surface.

“The cost … that doesn't include whatever it's going to cost for cleaning out the drains if they need to be cleaned out,” she said. “So I think it's going to be more than this.”

Administrative services Director Joe Marrone said crews will inspect the drains. He was unsure of what conditions might be like in the drains.

“If we find we have a bad sewer or something under there — an unforeseen condition — that might be an additional cost, we'll come back to (the board),” Marrone said.

The field's current surface was installed in 2004, district leaders said.

Several Quaker Valley High School sports teams use the field, including girls soccer, boys soccer, football, girls lacrosse and boys lacrosse. In addition, the marching band, cheerleaders and middle school sports use the field.

Outside of Quaker Valley-sanctioned events, community groups and sports teams use the surface.

Boys soccer Coach Gene Klein told board members last month the existing turf is unsafe.

“It's horrendous,” he said.

Klein said Chuck KnoxStadium turf was once “one of the top ones around. Now it's really struggling.”

He said coaches and WPIAL officials at times have questioned the safety of the surface, and said piles of green fibers are left following rain storms.

An impact test conducted over the summer and released in the fall deemed the turf safe, Marrone said at the time.

He said the facility's warranty was for seven years, but routine maintenance and regular testing have allowed school administrators to prolong use of the field.

Superintendent Joseph Clapper said had board members considered a natural surface, maintenance costs could have been high.

“It costs money to put in a new turf field, but it costs money to maintain a (grass) field,” he said. A decade ago, when school leaders considered replacing a then-grass surface, Clapper said maintenance costs were estimated to be about $30,000 per year, which included labor costs, fertilizer, seeding and preparing the field for winter.

“One would only think that that cost has escalated,” he said.

Board member Gianni Floro said he welcomed new turf.

He said the use the field gets from the community and from the school district is high.

“It is continually used,” Floro said. “It has permitted our students to be on the field ... essentially around the clock. It doesn't need watering. It doesn't need fertilizer. In its prime and in its good condition, it was a wonderful surface to play on. Our students deserve that.”

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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