Almanac

Schools - July 3, 2013

New Hillview playing field must be ripped up, rebuilt

by Renee Batti

Neighbors of Hillview Middle School may have hoped for a quiet summer after living through three previous summers of major construction work required to rebuild the Menlo Park campus. But that hope was dashed with the school district's recent determination that the new playing field must be ripped up and repaired beginning this week.

Ahmad Sheikholeslami, director of facilities for the Menlo Park City School District, announced late last week that since the field opened for use in mid-March, the district has discovered irregularities affecting the levelness of the field.

"The district conducted an exhaustive analysis and determined that the problems were the result of improper drainage detail installation and the use of incorrect base soil underneath the synthetic field, "Mr. Sheikholeslami said in a written statement sent to neighbors late Friday, June 28.

The contractor was scheduled to begin fixing the field Monday, July 1, launching a project that will require construction work six days a week in the hope it will be completed Aug. 15, before school begins, he said.

"Unfortunately, the corrective work will require removal of the existing synthetic grass, removal and reinstallation of the base soil, and rework of the drainage sections," Mr. Sheikholeslami said. "After this work is corrected, a new synthetic field will be installed and the work will be completed."

District Superintendent Maurice Ghysels told the Almanac that the contractor will be responsible for the repair costs. "We expect that all the corrections to the field will be complete this summer and will meet required installation specifications without any additional costs" to the district, he wrote in an email.

The contractor will work "an aggressive schedule" to meet the August deadline; the project "will be closely monitored and precautions will be made to reduce dust and mud from the site," Mr. Sheikholeslami said.

Crews will work from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

Mr. Sheikholeslami could not be reached for more details about the problems and how they were discovered.

The Hillview campus at Santa Cruz and Elder avenues was completely rebuilt in a massive project beginning in the summer of 2010. Work on the campus, except for the playing field, was completed in time for the September 2012 opening of school.

The district originally planned to open the field, which is also used by community youth sports programs, by last December, but the project dragged on into March, forcing the local lacrosse club to look for alternative fields to open its season on March 9.

At the time, Mr. Sheikholeslami said soft soil had been detected under a portion of the artificial turf, and the contractor needed to make repairs. The field was opened about a week later.

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