Park fans will be in for a treat this upcoming season, whether it’s football, soccer or lacrosse. The Park athletics department received brand new turf as well as a brand new track to complete the football field.
The project was needed, according to Park activities director Phil Kuemmel, and he was happy with how quick the process was completed and the support the high school received during this time period.
"We received so much support from the school district and the community, and it helped with making the process run faster and more smooth,” Kuemmel said. “We just knew for the safety of our players that this needed to get done this summer.”
Park put in turf back in 2007 and back then the estimate for doing turf was between 10-15 years of functionality. Back then, turf was a new aspect to high school athletics and there wasn’t as much research and data to what people know today.
Last year, Park had some turf experts come to the field and see if it needed work or not. The turf looked faded, but once the experts stepped on the field, they knew it needed to be replaced.
It was a little earlier than expected, but everyone knew, most importantly, for the safety of players and continuing to build the athletic program at Park, the project needed to be done. Along with Park, Woodbury and East Ridge had turf put in at a similar time frame as Park’s field, so the school district started saving early and often.
"The school district knew the three schools put in turf at relatively the same time and that meant they would need to be replaced near the same time as well,” Kuemmel said. “They started saving money throughout the years so they could have the funds to replace these fields when the time came. I appreciate all their help in the process.”
Kuemmel said the process to purchase and complete this project was smooth, as the district provided the resources and the money to fund such a large project. He also took ideas from activities directors from other schools to find the best turf and help with different ideas.
After Park's spring season was over, the field was closed and the contractors came in to start working.
Kuemmel said the hope was to finish the project last week so the teams could practice a little bit before games started. Due to rain days and minor delays, that goal wasn’t reached but he hopes the field will be ready this upcoming week.
The boys’ and girls’ soccer teams have been playing games around the community, including East Ridge High School and HealthEast Sports Center. The football team doesn’t have its first home game until Friday, Sept. 6.
As for the future, Kuemmel said this new turf will last a little longer than the original turf, but it’ll depend on different conditions. The good part is that the turf field is covered in the winter with snow, which helps protect it for periods of time each year.
Along with the projection, Kuemmel also said the field will look brand new whether it’s the first year or the 10th year. The turf was made to look the same no matter the wear and tear.
"I’m very excited to see how the players, coaches and fans enjoy this new turf in the next couple of weeks,” Kuemmel said. “I appreciate everyone’s help in this process from beginning to end.”