Committee to vote on installing new throwing facilities at N.S. schools for $138K

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – The company that recently installed a new synthetic turf field at the North Smithfield High School athletic fields will put in throwing facilities for just $138,000, more than $20,000 less than the project was estimate to cost three years ago, according to Supt. Michael St. Jean.

FieldTurf, USA, Inc. recently completed installation of the field and accompanying track, coming in under budget by $80,000, savings that could be used to ring the additional cost for the throwing areas down.

“With that money that was saved by coming in under budget for the turf and the track, we would be coming in at $58,000,” St. Jean old members of the School Committee at a meeting Tuesday, Dec. 14.

“They’re willing to lock in on that price for construction in the spring,” St. Jean said. “I think everyone is pretty aware that prices have continued to rise – considerably so. This is a good price.”

The superintendent noted that the district put out an RFP for installation of the facilities – fit to accommodate javelin, discus and shotput – four years ago, and received an estimate of $160,000.

“We took another look at the designs that were created then, which create a discrete javelin and discus throw area between the high school and the middle school,” he said. “It includes a net which will protect the cars in the parking lot from errant projectiles, and it also puts a shot put throwing area behind the track. There’s space for it.”

The Canada-based firm estimated that hammer and discus cage, plus pad could be installed for $96,000 the shotput facilities would cost $42,000.

FieldTurf, reportedly the largest turf provider in the country, was awarded a bid of $1,017,159 to install the field and track back in June, with funds saved by the district during the pandemic. At the time, the 13-year-old surfaces had been deemed unsafe by another company hired to evaluate conditions.

The project was mostly complete in time for the high school football team’s Thanksgiving game, where the field debuted.

The facility has been closed since, and Town Councilor Kimberly Alves attended the Tuesday night meeting asking for a status update.

“We want to open up the field soon,” St. Jean said, noting that there was some final work to be done following the debut game. He said school officials are now working on policy for ongoing maintenance and access for both the public, and outside teams who may want to rent the field.

“We want to expand the use, especially the rentals, where we can generate some funds,” St. Jean said. “We just have to get a few more pieces in place.”

The new surface has a 15 year life, and funds generated from the rentals are expected to be saved for the next scheduled synthetic turf replacement.

The superintendent said he’s hopeful to have the full proposed policy for field use and maintenance before the School Committee in time for their meeting next month, including an effort to put a schedule online so that members of the community know when it’s open.

The long hoped for throwing area, meanwhile, has seen some delays over concerns the facilities would co-opt space occupied by the softball field by Veteran’s Memorial Stadium. The new design, St. Jean said, won’t touch the existing field.

He noted that FieldTurf could incorporate the additional work as a change order to their original contract with the town of North Smithfield.

“It’s not as big as we initially thought,” School Committee Chairman James Lombardi said of the price. “We know this company does quality work.”

A final proposal for the installation is also expected to go before the School Committee at their next meeting in January.

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