By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The Lynnfield High School fields project is inching closer to its grand opening ceremony on Friday, Oct. 10.
School and local officials are planning on holding a grand opening ceremony for the $6.5 million fields complex on Oct. 10. The football team will make its home debut against Georgetown under the lights, beginning at 7 p.m. Before the gridmen take the field, the boys’ soccer team will play at LHS for the first time this season against Manchester-Essex, beginning at 3:45 p.m. Additionally, the girls’ soccer team will host Natick on Saturday, Oct. 11, beginning at 6 p.m.
During a site visit to the fields complex last Friday, Fields Committee Chairman Arthur Bourque said the football team, both soccer teams, and recreational groups have begun using the new stadium field that is close to being finished.
“It’s been fun seeing the kids practice on it,” said Bourque. “I have enjoyed seeing the football and soccer teams practice on the field.”
Boys’ soccer head coach Brent Munroe said his squad practiced on the stadium field Sept. 13. He can’t wait for the grand opening on Oct. 10.
“We are going from the worst facility in the Cape Ann League to the best,” said Munroe.
The LHS stadium field includes a lot of new features compared to the old field at Lynnfield Middle School. Lines have already been painted on the field, goalposts have been installed and an electronic scoreboard has been installed. The field also includes a redesigned Pioneer logo that was designed by retired LMS art teacher and girls’ track coach Mike Mischo.
“I went to him before he retired and asked him if he could redesign the logo for us and he did,” said Bourque. “I think the logo came out great and everybody seems to be pretty happy with it.”
The aluminum and blue bleachers have been constructed and the blue-painted press box has been installed. The bleachers are also going to be solid, which will prevent items from falling through them unlike the current LMS bleachers
“This is going to be a great place to see a game,” said Bourque.
The bleachers will include a handicap accessible elevator that will allow attendees to access the top of the bleachers as well as a handicap ramp, which weren’t included at the old LMS field.
“That is a big change,” said Bourque.
According to Bourque, the press box will have Internet access, electrical outlets, air conditioning and there will be a P.A. system as well. In the future, Bourque hopes Lynnfield Cable Access will be able to run “live football feeds” out of the press box.
“I don’t think they are planning on doing it currently, but they could in the future,” said Bourque.
Bourque said the area located below the bleachers will include lighting so people can safely access their seats at night. The area located below the bleachers is going to be paved as well.
According to Bourque, the area next to the bleachers is big enough to bring in a temporary set of bleachers for Thanksgiving Day football games or graduation. He said the temporary bleachers would need to be purchased because the building code stipulates permanent seating can’t exceed 826 seats as mandated by the plumbing board.
“We don’t own them and we are going to have to buy them,” said Bourque. “It will give us the ability to add a couple of hundred seats to the bleachers if we want to.”
According to Bourque, an iron rail fence is going to be installed near the wooden guardrail next to the parking lot. He said the purpose of the fence is to prevent kids from climbing up the bleachers from the LHS student parking lot. The iron rail fence is going to be gated and locked.
Bourque said construction of the front entrance walkway and handicap ramp is progressing. He said the walkway and handicap ramp will be paved later this month.
Bourque said the 3,800 square foot amenities building is currently “behind schedule.” He said the building was scheduled to be completed by Sept. 29, but the new deadline is currently Oct. 9.
“We remain very optimistic that the contractor will meet his deadline and he is telling he will be ready to go,” said Bourque.
Bourque said the exterior work in the building is “pretty much done.” He anticipates the amenities building will be watertight and the electrical equipment that runs the field will be up and running soon. Bourque said the restrooms are currently the biggest question mark.
“There is a question about occupancy of the building and whether we will or won’t have restrooms,” said Bourque. “We have had a lengthy discussion with the building inspector about it, and it maybe necessary to open up the restrooms in the school and bring in portable restrooms here.”
If the restrooms are not completed by Oct. 9, Bourque said a temporary occupancy permit will be issued in the meantime. He also said the building’s septic system and grease traps have been installed.
Bourque said electrical work is about almost a week away from being installed and “major electrical work” was scheduled to take place on Monday. He said carpenters still need to install wallboard to mount technical equipment and control gear for the Musco lighting still needs to be wired.
Contractors were working diligently on the roof last Friday when frames were being installed. Bourque said last week the building is “a week away from being weather tight.”
According to Bourque, fields 2 and 3 are scheduled to be ready on Sept. 19. Field 2 has already had turf installed and lines painted. He said rubber pellets and sand were scheduled to begin being installed on Monday. Bourque also noted field 2 is actually longer than the stadium field by five yards.
“It doesn’t look it, but it’s longer,” said Bourque. “From a soccer perspective, I am sure the coaches will want to play on the stadium field, but if they want a real soccer field they can play in the back.”
Contractors have been working diligently to finish field 3 this week, which will serve as a practice field as well as a playing field. Contractors were scheduled to finish installing the turf, rubber pellets and sand for field 3 this week. Field 3 is going to be lined for all five sports.
Bourque said the baseball and softball fields are scheduled to be completed by the end of October. Renovations to the baseball field include a new drainage system, field resurfacing, batting cages and a pitcher’s warm-up area. The new softball field will have covered dugouts, field drainage, fencing, batting cages and a pitcher’s warm up area.
“I am not anticipating any delays,” said Bourque.
Bourque personally thanked the 2006 fields committee for raising awareness that the town’s fields were becoming a problem that needed to be addressed. He said the work undertaken by that group enabled the fields project to become a reality four years after the School Committee nixed a $3.5 fields project in Sept. 2010.
“They were the catalysts who were saying we need new fields,” said Bourque.
Bourque also said he has engaged in discussions with Lynnfield Recreation and LHS Athletic Director Michael Bierwirth about what will come next after the LHS fields project is completed.
“I am trying to draw a clear distinction between my role in getting this complex built and my non-role once it is built,” said Bourque.
The fields committee chairman also said local officials will need to make sure all of the equipment is properly stored during the winter so it will last for a long time.
Bourque said he has enjoyed working on the fields project immensely.