PEABODY — After the last charitable relay team completes its final circuit and all the tents are packed up, the heavy machinery will roll onto Coley Lee Field to excavate the site and prepare it for a layer of artificial turf.
Quirk Construction Corp. of Georgetown was just awarded the contract to install the Peabody High turf field, after submitting a low bid of $1.3 million.
Graduation is May 30. The annual Peabody Relay for Life is June 6 and 7. Construction will begin June 8 and last for three months.
“If all things go smoothly, we will be having football and soccer games at the high school in the fall,” Mayor Ted Bettencourt said.
“It’s like a dream come true,” said Peabody Athletic Director Phil Sheridan.
School officials have talked about replacing the football field for years, bemoaning the muddy mess the field becomes every time there’s a good rain. The sod often takes days to dry out, and because there’s a lot of clay in the soil, the field doesn’t drain well. There’s also lots of ledge.
All those factors lead to hazardous conditions and injured athletes, not to mention the scheduling headaches of finding alternate sites. At times, games just have to be canceled. An artificial turf field should remove all those problems.
“It’s like comparing apples with filet mignon,” Sheridan said, referring to the grass field first installed 40 years ago and the new turf. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on the field in boots, spreading Speedi Dry, only to watch it float away because there was so much water on the field.”
He expects the high school athletic fields to “take a beating” over the next two years, when they will be used more while the new middle school is built. But the new turf will absorb a lot of the wear and tear.