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New Petaluma High field nears completion

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The formula for completion of the $7 million field and track project at Petaluma High School is simple: 4+2+2.

“We need four consecutive days of dry weather; then later, two consecutive days; and later; two more consecutive days,” explained Principal David Stirrat. Most pressing and most dry-weather dependent is sealant and striping on the track. The athletic field is essentially done and playable. Work is also continuing on a new entrance and ticket booth, along with a new snack bar and restroom and equipment storage facilities.

According to Dave Ashe, construction manager for the Petaluma City Schools District, the upper level near the bleachers where the new entrance will be located is an area that still needs work, including the pouring of more concrete.

He said the project should be completed by mid-March.

The playing field is essentially done. “We could probably play soccer on it now,” said Stirrat.

The winning bid for the project was $5.9 million, With soft costs such as architecture, additional engineering, electrical and other costs, the total price tag will read around $7 million.

Petaluma High athletic director Rick Krist, who had initially advocated for a natural grass field, is impressed with the new synthetic-turf field with its purple end zones and Trojan head at midfield. “It pops. The field looks spectacular,” he said. “Based on our needs, it couldn’t have been done any better. The community can be really proud of this facility.”

Stirrat emphasized that it will be a community facility with the track open to walkers, joggers and runners and the field available for community use.

He thanked the people living near the field for their patience during the construction process. “It has been hard for them with the noise, the trucks and the construction work,” he said. “But I think they will find that the project will increase their real estate values.”

Like the Casa Grande field, finished two years ago, the Petaluma synthetic turf uses cork infill that makes it safer, cooler and more durable than the traditional rubber pellet infill.

Long-time Petaluma High School track coach Doug Johnson, who helped design the track the current project is replacing, and has been closely involved with the design of the replacement, said it will take some time for all the details to be worked out.

“I’m tickled to death,” he said. “There are a few things I would have done differently, but there always are. It is going to take about a year to get everything in place, but it is going to be nice.”

Under Johnson’s direction, areas for jumping events have all been located in one place — on the upper level to the west of the grandstands — meaning there will be no need for athletes to rush from high jump to long and triple jump areas.

The throwing events — discus and shot put — are on the lower level, taking away a portion of the baseball diamond outfield.

There is a synthetic-turfed area behind the goal posts between the field and the baseball fence for physical education, football practice and other uses.

The track itself is designed so that sprints can be run simultaneously down both sides.

Because of the different grade levels between the parking lots and the upper and lower levels of the facility, the project required extensive and expensive work to make it completely ADA compliant.

Still ahead are what Ashe called “minor repairs to the bleachers.”

Those would include new access to the home-side grandstands and new paint.

Work on the project was headed by two local firms. FRC Inc. was general contractor for the project, while Oak Grove Construction was responsible for the site work. Both are Petaluma-based companies.

“Construction has gone smoothly,” said Ashe. “FRC Inc. has been great to work with as have most of the sub-contractors.”