By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — A vast majority of people at last night’s meeting on renovations planned for Bertram Field favored a design option that would expand the track.
A city-contracted design firm has proposed two scenarios for Bertram Field, both of which would renovate the football field and install artificial turf. The first option would reconstruct the track but keep its footprint as is, at 370 meters.
The second option would enlarge the track to regulation size of 400 meters, expand the footprint of the field and relocate the visitor stands.
“Option A (keeping the track at 370 meters) shouldn’t even be an option,” said Joy Lima, a Salem High School senior who runs track, plays soccer and plays in the marching band. “(Enlarging the track) needs to happen. There is no question.”
At 370 meters, a person has to take more than four laps around the track to walk or run one mile.
The City Council will vote to choose one of the design options in the coming months, once the city collects construction bids and solidifies cost estimates.
Construction bids are due June 7, work should start July 1 and the project is slated to be complete, with the renovated track and field usable, by Sept. 30.
Option A, keeping the track at 370 meters, could cost $1 million to $1.3 million, said Chris Huntress, principal at Huntress Associates, the design firm the city hired for the Bertram project. Option B will cost more, but how much more is to be determined.
This winter, Salem was awarded a $400,000 grant through the state’s Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities, or PARC, program for upgrades at Bertram Field. The city will be responsible for paying for renovation costs that match or exceed the grant reimbursement.
The audience of more than 40 at last night’s meeting was supportive of the project and asked questions on design specifics, wear and tear, and estimated life span of the artificial turf and renovated track.
When Huntress took an informal poll over the two design options, nearly everyone in the room raised their hand in support of option B.
There were a number of student-athletes at the meeting, as well as members of the Salem-based Wicked Running Club. The club’s board of directors submitted a letter last night supporting option B.
The track at Bertram Field is worn enough that it needs to be reconstructed and can’t simply be re-covered, Huntress said. The field will also be excavated, with a new base layer and drainage installed.
Either option A or option B will allow Bertram Field’s light poles to stay where they are, Huntress said. Option B would enlarge the field’s playing surface for soccer, while option A would keep it closer to the minimum size required for soccer.
The track would need to be resurfaced every five to eight years and reconstructed in 15 to 24 years, Huntress said. Typically, artificial turf fields last 10 to 12 years, while the base layer under the field lasts 30 to 40 years, he said.
The wear-and-tear added by opening the complex to the public would shorten those life span estimates, Huntress said.
Bertram Field, located behind Collins Middle School, is used by Salem High athletics, as well as youth sports programs.
Salem High School Principal David Angeramo; police Chief Paul Tucker; City Councilor Robert McCarthy; Paul L’Heureux, director of facilities for the Salem Public Schools; and School Committee member Nate Bryant attended last night’s meeting.
Andover-based Huntress Associates specializes in athletic facility design and designed the artificial turf baseball fields at Salem State University.
The firm has been working with members of Salem’s school, planning, and parks and recreation departments on the Bertram Field project this spring.
Bethany Bray can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.