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Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (Cheyenne)
CHEYENNE — The athletic fields at Cheyenne's McCormick Junior High will not be completed when school starts.
Dave Bartlett, LCSD1's assistant superintendent of support operations, said he originally expected the fields to be completed by Sept. 5, but that is no longer possible.
"We've worked a schedule out with Central High, and they'll be using the practice fields over there. And the first couple games will most likely take place on Riske Field," he said.
Bartlett said fall sports practice begins Aug. 14 at McCormick Junior High.
Bartlett said the delays in completing the project were out of LCSD1's control and ranged from obtaining approval for the project from the School Facilities Division to lining up concrete contractors for the job.
Additionally, Bartlett said when the project's designer and contractor first brought a plan to LCSD1 the cost for retaining walls was far higher than the district budgeted for. He said alterations brought the cost down by about $100,000 to $125,000.
He told LCSD1 Board of Trustees on Monday that contractors started building the retaining walls Monday, but he had hoped they would've start on them a week earlier.
"We've had kind of a litany of delays," he said. But he added the delays allowed LCSD1 to find the best options for improvements.
Renovations to the fields include replacing the grass with synthetic turf, building retaining walls, doing concrete work, and adding stairs and ramps that will improve accessibility and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The walls and concrete will help reduce drainage problems at the school, Bartlett said. He told the trustees water on the fields drain to the north, which make the lower field unusable for a portion of the year. The new walls will drain the water south toward Dry Creek.
The walls, concrete, stairs and ramps must be completed before synthetic turf is installed.
Bartlett said the turf will improve safety for players. The turf is softer than dirt and grass, which decreases the chance of concussions, especially in colder months, he said. He added that the rubber under the field can be loosened if tests show it still doesn't cushion well enough.
Bartlett said changes increase the functionality of the field and added about 20 feet to the width of both fields at the school.
"All of our junior high fields have so much community use," he said. That includes youth sports through the city's Parks and Recreations Department.
"They'll do six to eight football games a day, which on a natural grass field doesn't take long to tear up."
Bartlett said LCSD1's plan is to have synthetic turf installed at all three junior high schools in the future. Cheyenne's Central, East and South high schools all have synthetic turf fields.
The work on McCormick's athletic fields is costing a little more than $1 million. Part of that is from major maintenance money from the state of Wyoming. Bartlett said the LCSD1 recreation mill is covering the cost of the synthetic turf and installation.
LCSD1 trustees originally approved $898,500 on March 6 to begin the work. The trustees on Monday approved an additional $351,738 for the design and installation of the synthetic turf.
Bartlett couldn't provide an estimate of when the work will be completed.
"A lot of it depends on the work they're doing this week and Mother Nature," he said.
Kristine Galloway is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle's education reporter. She can be reached at email@example.com or 307-633-3184.
Follow her on Twitter at @KGalloway_WTE
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