Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Friday, December 19, 2014

Artificial turf, night lights set for Hub Stine

Original Hub Stine Complex proposal. Areas in dark green
were to be artificial turf. In the revised plan, all the fields
in the upper left corner will remain grass. Night lights
are now proposed for the football field. (Image courtesy Maria Pellum.)

Plainfield's school district looks to finally be ready to do a makeover at the Hub Stine Athletic Complex.

Superintendent Anna Belin Pyles and business administrator Gary Ottman brought representatives of their engineering firm to Thursday's Planning Board meeting for a 'capital project review'.

The Board of Ed in 2012 voted against moving forward with the project as originally conceived (and approved), putting the $3.5M project on the shelf. At the time, Maria Pellum posted about the original plan on her blog (see here) and I weighed in (see here) on the apparent confusion and disarray among the Board members and between the Board and the district's administration over the plan. Funding for the project has been held in reserve since that time.

The review given last night revealed changes to the proposal -- primarily restricting the artificial turf to the football field only (it had originally been proposed for the lower fields also); installing new stone drainage at several points; and installing four large night lighting poles for the football field.

Planning Board attorney Michele Donato noted that the Board review was one where the applicant (the school district) was 'required to sit but you do not have to listen' -- suggesting it was a courtesy review.

Board members zeroed in on the proposal for night lighting -- new to this version of the plan -- and asked many questions about the level of lighting, its control and whether there would be  low-level option for community use for walking or jogging in the evenings.

Two of the proposed light poles would be 70' high and two at 80' high, with banks of high-powered metal halide lamps rated at 1500 watts. This would bring Hub Stine up to the measure of other fields at which night games are played. That is a good thing.

When the board asked if the neighbors had been notified of the change, the engineer seemed stymied. Business Administrator Ottman said that their had been no opportunity for neighborhood input since 'the last time'. Board attorney Donato pointed out that it was not necessary for this particular review, but that the Board of Ed should conduct a public hearing on the proposal.

There was also some discussion of improvements in artificial turf that have become standard since the original proposal, with the suggestion by Planning Board chair Ron Scott Bey that the district look into the turf issues carefully.

Asked about the timeline, the District responded that it expects to begin work immediately after graduation (which takes place at Hub Stine) and to have it completed in time for the first home game in September 2015.

In the end, the Planning Board voted 4-1 to approve the review of the plan, pending receipt of the report from the city's engineers. Attendance was light, perhaps because of the holidays but also because this was a pro forma review of a previously thoroughly discussed project.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Walt Hetfield said...

This sucks. Ruining once and for all what was once the best field in the state. Long live Big Frank!