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Nov. 28, 2007

Installment of artificial turf in Blazer Stadium postponed to 2009 summer

by Greg Kohn, Online Sports Editor
The first steps in the schedule to install artificial turf in Blazer Stadium will begin next month, according to the Montgomery County Department of Parks and Planning (MC-NCPPC). The actual installation is scheduled for the summer of 2009, a year after the date predicted by the athletic department's first reports.

The project will be formally launched in December when the MC-NCPPC invites landscape architectural firms to put in bids for the design contract, according to Douglas Alexander, Acting Chief of the Park Development Division. Once a firm is hired, the field will be surveyed and a construction plan will be developed.

However, two important elements in the schedule are still unresolved. The wetlands' ability to handle rainwater runoff must be determined and a new agreement over control of the field for non-school activities needs to be negotiated, according to Alexander. If the schedule is further delayed, Blair's football and soccer teams could be without a home field in the fall of 2009, according to Blair Athletic Director Dale Miller.

Current county regulations necessitate an extensive drainage system to handle the runoff from the turf. The county requirements are valid despite advances in turf absorbency, according to Alexander. But an even more elaborate system may be necessary if the wetlands neighboring the stadium are deemed unable to handle heavy downpours. In that case, an underground tank would be built to store the runoff.

"We expect that an underground storm-water management system may be required, because there is limited capacity on the school site for a surface system," Alexander said. "Underground systems are more complex and can sometimes take more time for design and permit review."

In addition, under the current agreement between MC-NCPPC and the Montgomery County school board, Blair's athletic department can rent out the stadium field to other sports teams when Blair teams are not using it. The rental income is a primary source of funds for the Blair Boosters Club, according to Miller. The Blair Boosters Club supports Blair's athletics program financially.

However, parks officials have requested to renegotiate this agreement and indicated that Blair should give up some of the control of the field and therefore some of the rental income, according to Mary Bradford, Director of the Parks Department.

Despite the possible impact on the Blair Boosters Club, Miller has still shown support for the turf. "We may lose income, but I'd rather have the turf," Miller said. "We will fight for the right to host a few events, though." Miller cited the high school football match-up between St. Johns and Gonzaga, which Blair has hosted in the past, as such an event.

The field is a candidate for turf because of its heavy use, according to Miller. At the end of the past fall season, half of the field's grass had been worn off. In an attempt to preserve the grass, the football and lacrosse teams use the field only occasionally for practices, and the boys' soccer teams practice off-campus. With synthetic turf, Blair teams could practice more often at the stadium, according to Miller.

"The turf will be great because it will eliminate issues related to overuse," he said.



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  • wow on December 3, 2007 at 1:23 PM
    that sucks, we really need this soon
  • - on December 4, 2007 at 12:15 AM
    I think that it's great they're considering the possible environmental impact.
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