Turf field work starts this month

A few more events to get out of the way for the spring sports season and work will begin on ripping up the field within the track and replacing it with a turf field.

“May 22 is the day the site will be available for the contractor,” said Kevin Lyon, the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s capital projects director.

The field has been designed by USKH, a firm that specializes in architecture, engineering, surveying and planning and has offices in Alaska, Idaho and Washington. Contractor for the project is Arno Construction of Homer. Lyon is the project manager.

“We were able to award the entire project,” said Lyon.

In addition to installing the turf field, the project includes relocating the shot put area, putting it beside the long jump.

“The whole project, including the shot put venue is $1,734,570,” said Lyon.

Drainage for the turf field was done when the track was installed two years ago, said Homer High School Principal Doug Waclawski.

“Basically, they’re going to come in, cut the sod out, put some dirt in … and the turf on top of that,” said Waclawski. “It’s basically in four really large containers. Most of the weight is going to be the little rubber ball bearings that go in it.”

The work involves taking the existing field down to about 18 inches below grade. The current field has a 3 percent crown, raised center, which will be reduced to .5 percent.

“That makes it better for soccer players,” said Lyon.

The new field is a synthetic turf system made by Field Turf, with distributors around the United States and in Canada. It is composed of a fiber, an infill and a backing, according to information provided by Turf Field.

The grass-like turf fibers are made from polyethylene, providing comfort and safety for players, as well as durability.

Turf Field describes the infill system, which is spread between the fibers, is “the single most important aspect of all synthetic turf fields.” The company’s patented three-layer infill system provides cushioning to absorb impacts and offer traction. The bottom layer of the infill is made of silica sand, covered with a mix of cryogenic rubber and silica sand and, finally, larger-sized cryogenic rubber layers. The silica sand helps stabilize and support the system. The cryogenic rubber is recycled rubber tires that are cryogenically frozen and turned into smooth, clean-cut granules.

“They’re like little black pellets,” said Lyon. 

The backing is both a primary and secondary backing that gives stability to the whole system. The primary backing is constructed from woven polypropylene fabrics on which the artificial turf fibers are tufted in rows. The secondary backing is applied to the reverse side of the primary backing to permanently lock the tufted fibers into place.

“Basically we lay down a carpet for the entire field,” said Lyon. 

The whole project is to be completed by the first part of August.

“This will be a top-of-the-line field,” said Lyon.

A turf field already exists at Kenai Central High School. Installation of a Soldotna High School field is schedule for this summer. There are no turf fields at Nikiski or Seward.

The new track came with some do’s and don’ts of care. The field has a few, as well.

“The only thing you wouldn’t do is spill sunflower seeds. You don’t want them growing,” said Lyon of keeping the popular snack off the field. “And the other thing, if you spill something like Gatorade, you have to rinse it down.”

Waclawski said a turf field means sporting events won’t be so weather- and field-dependent.

“If you go down there now, there’s no green grass. There are sections where it’s just mud,” he said of current field conditions. “And when we get it, we want to see it used all the time. That’s the whole point of it.”

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinskyA@homernews.com. For more about Field Turf, visit fieldturf.com.