Natural Grass Athletic Field Plan Hits Snag at Pierson

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Sag Harbor - Pierson

The playing fields behind Pierson Middle-High School as they appeared last spring. Many changes have already been made, and more are sure to follow.

By Christine Sampson

A wrinkle in the plans for a natural grass athletic field at Pierson Middle-High School has popped up at the same time more specific plans have begun to take shape for the upgraded field and multipurpose court at Sag Harbor Elementary School.

The Sag Harbor School Board on Monday found itself having to reject all three bids it received for the Pierson field project, after two came in over budget and the third — which was, in fact, within budget — came in missing a component.

John Longo, vice president of BBS Architects, the firm handling the design of the field projects, said Monday the district would republish the project’s bid specifications on Thursday. Bids are due in from interested contractors on June 1 — giving them the bare minimum number of days required by law, five days, to hand in their proposals.

“We rebid it with the thought that the low bidder … will bid correctly on it this time,” Mr. Longo told the school board on Monday.

He did say the lowest bidder’s price would most likely increase “by the value of what he missed in his bid,” but said there was still some flexibility between the district’s budget for the project and the amount proposed by the lowest bidder.

The names of the contractors who submitted proposals and the details of the rejected bids were not available this week from the school district.

Sag Harbor has $1.59 million available for both the Pierson field project and the Sag Harbor Elementary project. The money originally totaled $1.62 million and came from the former synthetic turf field bond referendum, which the community approved in November 2013, and which was eventually redirected — after much debate and two more community votes — toward a natural grass option.

Mr. Longo said if the bids are opened immediately and the contract is awarded at the school board’s June 5 meeting, the timeline of having the field ready by mid-October will not be significantly impacted. School officials said months ago they hoped to award a contract at the end of May, before the district was faced with rejecting all three bids.

It was nearly a repeat of the district’s synthetic turf history, in which the school board had to throw out the bids it received for the synthetic turf field because they also had come in over budget.

Mr. Longo also presented preliminary plans for the practice field and multipurpose court at the elementary school. Not to worry — the outline of a kickball court has been restored in the multipurpose court sketch, after initially being excluded. Pickleball, basketball, hopscotch and foursquare are among the games that will also be included, and more is yet to come.

“Eric told them immediately that kickball rules, and John had it back within 24 hours on the drawings,” Katy Graves, Sag Harbor’s superintendent, said Monday, referring to recommendations from the district’s athletic director, Eric Bramoff.

School board member Susan Lamontagne suggested getting students together to brainstorm ideas for the multipurpose court, similar to the way the Mashashimuet Park Board sought ideas from children for its new playground.

The multipurpose court will be an asphalt surface coated with an acrylic finish, similar to a hard tennis court. It will support snow plows or snow blowers for easy clearing, so students could theoretically play on it during recess in the wintertime.

Mr. Longo said the plans for the athletic field and multipurpose court at Sag Harbor Elementary will be sent up to the New York State Education Department for approval by the end of July, and estimated breaking ground on that project in June of 2018.

During a discussion later on about the district’s vehicle parking woes, school board vice president Tommy John Schiavoni briefly wondered whether the district should build a parking lot where the multipurpose court currently stands. Ms. Lamontagne said she heard murmurs in the community that people have suggested as much, but the idea did not find support among the other board members.

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