We’re hearing rumblings that the Wellesley High Track and Field project‘s completion will be delayed. The $3 million effort, which was undertaken in order to widen the field so that it could be used by more athletes and help alleviate the squeeze on other fields in town, and to rebuild a track that had seen better days, looks like it will not be ready for its original grand opening date of September 24.
According to one of our sources, for multiple reasons — from electrical service relocation related to scoreboards, public address systems, and outlets to organic materials that had to be removed so as to avoid future field settlement — the opening date must be pushed into early-to-mid-October. In addition, according to a source, the artificial turf was ordered only last week. The turf, which is like a custom carpet, will not be completed by the factory in time for the original opening date.
Athletic Director John Brown got back to us right away and confirmed that “… it looks like there will be a delay. We don’t have anymore information at this time” and that “We are being told that we will know more in two weeks.”
We’ve been watching the project’s progress with great interest all summer, posting the pictures and milestones that the Department of Public Works Engineering Division has put out as the field has come together. Anyone in town who has so much as renovated a bathroom knows that when it comes to construction, a delay of a few weeks is not unusual. When dealing with all the moving parts that come with a $3 million dollar project, problems will indeed crop up.
What’s unfortunate is that the football team has only two home games scheduled, the first on September 24 and the second on October 1, plus one play-off game with a date to be announced. We wonder where these games will be played, as well as scheduled field hockey games and boys and girls soccer games.
There are many in town who want concrete answers, which will likely not be forthcoming for at least a couple of weeks. In particular, community members who headed up, supported, and donated to the Wellesley Field Fund, which raised over $1 million dollars through private donations to rebuild the track and field, are calling for transparency and answers. That cool million, handed over with great ceremony by Field Fund organizer Lisa Wesley to the selectmen, was combined with monies from Community Preservation and taxes (an agenda item for 2016 Town Meeting) in what was described as a public-private partnership in order to cover the $3 million project. Field fund organizers held numerous fundraisers from beer-food tastings to flag football to Wellesley Country Club affairs, to good old-fashioned buy-and-inscribe-a-brick to spur the private donations.
Town Engineer David Hickey in an email acknowledged that the completion date has been set back saying, “At this time, we are targeting mid October. The delay is not related to any one firm or component of the work, but a combination of things, which unfortunately can happen with projects of this size and nature. The field committee, the DPW, our engineer and contractor are all working hard together to keep things moving forward and will explore all opportunities to reduce the timeline, yet still assure the quality of the finish product. We will continue to provide project updates on the web page, and should be able to be more specific on the completion date within the next few weeks.”