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No football at Boys and Girls Club this year; athletic field renovations continue

Gary B. Gray • Updated Oct 8, 2015 at 6:51 PM

It wasn’t that the grass was greener on the other side of the field.

The roots were just longer

This year’s Boys and Girls Club of Johnson City-Washington County football activities had to be uprooted and moved to Indian Trail Intermediate School because sod laid on the club’s football field in late July was not ready in time for this year’s games. Renovations continue on nearby T-ball fields.

The flag and tackle leagues started play in early September, about four months after Johnson City commissioners approved a $700,000 bid by Baker Construction Services to address some sorely needed fixes at 2210 W. Market St.

When the contract was approved in April, Public Works Department Director Phil Pindzola encouraged commissioners to act quickly on the bid so the new Bermuda grass would have a chance to take root. They did act, and the contractor was on the job grading the field in short time. But by the time sod was going down, the clock was running out.

“We can’t play on that field this year,” Robin Crumley, the organization’s chief professional officer, said Thursday.

Crumley said the company — which also has crews working at Johnson City’s new Food City site — did what it could, watering the grass heavily to get the roots to grow. However, the club took over that responsibility when the contractor moved on to other projects.

“They (Johnson City) just allowed us so much water,” said Baker Construction Superintendent Jesse Buchanan. “It was supposed to be 30 days after the sod was laid before anyone got on the field, but I don’t know who makes that call. We didn’t finish the sod until the end of August. And the problem with Bermuda is, it probably had begun to stop growing and won’t grow back until spring.”

Brandon Pachol, a Johnson City project engineer, said Thursday that before bids were let, city officials knew they were racing the clock to finish in time for this season.

“We were trying our best to figure out how to get the football stadium built in time,” Pachol said. “Phil Pindzola finally said we just couldn’t do it. We had meetings with the club about where they could hold their games, and we came up with this idea. The contractor was really gung-ho, but it probably worked out for the best.”

All athletic field renovations still are on track for completion Nov. 23

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the community saying how great the field looks,” Crumley said. “They’ve done a lot of work on the T-ball fields. They have the dugouts in — the aluminum bleachers and the posts are in for the fencing. They won’t be able to put up the remaining fencing until the road is finished.”

The old football field, dubbed “rough as a cob” by Buchanan in July, is on the south side of the organization’s building. A small but new field house has replaced an outdated version and is connected to that side of the main building.

New football field bleachers, which sit just below the field house, also have been completed, and lights that had been used for the old football field will be reused on the new football field only.

Workers have repositioned the two, T-ball backstops and both home plates being moved closer together. The T-ball fields are getting new bleachers, and both the football and T-ball fields will be fully enclosed with new fencing.

A new access road, requested years ago by businessman Guy Wilson, is under construction to provide access for transport to and from his compounding facility. This part of the Lark Street Extension Project will run between the old animal shelter and a large electrical substation, and a portion of one of the retaining walls has been build where the road will connect with West State of Franklin Road.

The two-lane access road runs through the now-rundown Optimist Park and across the former animal shelter property on Sells Avenue. It will include left- and right-lane exits at State of Franklin Road.

City officials still are looking for replacement property for Optimist Park. The vacant park must be replaced because federal money was used for its construction.

One of the caveats to that funding was that a new recreational site be acquired. Keefauver Farm has been mentioned as a possible site, but no solid proposal has reached the City Commission.

In September 2013, commissioners approved the first phase of design for the road and began acquiring required environmental surveys and reports, environmental engineering documentation and impact assessments.

Email Gary Gray at [email protected]. Like Gary B. Gray on Facebook at www.facebook.com/garybgrayjcp. Follow him on Twitter @ggrayjcpress

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