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North Hills

Installation of artificial turf, lighting at NA fields likely to be delayed

Tony LaRussa
| Wednesday, June 27, 2018, 4:18 p.m.

McCandless council voted unanimously to give North Allegheny the go-ahead to install artificial turf on four fields at the intermediate high school as well as lighting that will allow teams to play at night.

But a significant change in the estimated cost for the work as well as the time line to complete it has prompted school administration to recommend the project be delayed until next summer.

District officials want to cover the soccer, baseball, softball and football fields with artificial grass to provide a more consistent playing surface and make the fields less susceptible to weather conditions. The addition of lighting would create more flexibility in the use of the fields by allowing practices and games after dark.

Plans now call for putting the project out for competitive bid during the 2018-19 school year so work can be completed during the summer of 2019.

Written comments about the project that were scheduled to be presented at the June 27 school board meeting say the district's athletic director obtained an estimate of $3.885 million from a vendor that was pre-approved through a joint purchasing agreement and that work would be completed before the start of the 2018-19 school year.

But when the vendor, who the district declined to identify, submitted a written contract for the project June 26, it “did not include the full scope of work and reflects a dramatically altered time line,” according to the statement posted on the district's website.

Additional costs for items such as unexpected soil conditions, stormwater control and accessibility issues boosted the estimated price tag to $5.4 million, an increase of 39 percent.

There also were “some important cost variables still undetermined,” according to the district's statement to the board. The vendor also indicated that work would not be done until some time in November or December, which means the fields could not be used for the fall sports season.

District officials also raised concerns about the disruption caused by having construction work done while classes are in session.

Before approving the district's land development application at its June 25 meeting, McCandless council sought and received assurances from district officials that lighting the field will not create a disturbance to surrounding residents.

Rob Gaertner, district director of facilities, told council the LED light fixtures that will be installed “are very accurately aimed by the manufacturer” and that district personnel will “check them after they are up to make sure they are properly aimed.”

Council added a requirement that all field lights be turned off by 10 p.m.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-772-6368 or tlarussa@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TonyLaRussaTrib.

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