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Long-Awaited Sports Park Reaches Finish

Mon March 07, 2011 - Southeast Edition
Cindy Riley

Construction is nearing completion on a 23-acre sports complex in a Birmingham, Ala., suburb which will host state and regional tournaments throughout the Southeast. The Vestavia Hills Liberty Park project, which includes four full-size soccer, lacrosse and football fields, plus an additional warm-up area, will feature almost a dozen acres of green synthetic turf.

“The city of Vestavia Hills has needed fields for some time, and the council was able to secure funding for them in the last two years,” explained Vestavia Hills Parks and Recreation Director Brian Davis. “They’ve been on the drawing board for about seven years. The overall growth of our city has necessitated the need for these additional fields.”

The park is located approximately 3.5 mi. off Interstate 459. The primary users will be the residents of Vestavia Hills, with a population of more than 30,000. The estimated cost for the entire project is $5.2 million, and will reportedly be funded by the city of Vestavia Hills and the Vestavia Hills Parks and Recreation Foundation.

As for what it means for the area, said Davis, “This project will be a tremendous asset for the region. It will allow the area to host many different types of events.”

According to project manager, Donald Myrick of the Birmingham construction firm Myrick Gurosky & Associates Inc., “This is the largest synthetic turf project to date in the Southeast. The biggest challenges involved the field being 11 acres in total, which has made it difficult to get enough material on site each day to keep up with the schedule.

“Construction began for us in August,” Myrick explained. “The first step was to install the electrical underground for the fencing and then move to fencing and sidewalks.

The general contractor’s work is expected to be completed by late February. Heat in the early stages of the construction was not a factor but the colder temperatures lately have slowed crews down as far as grading stone and gluing turf. Things went a little smoother, however, for Eagle Golf & Athletic Inc. of Florence, Ala. which served as the base contractor.

“Once the general contractor had the general excavation completed, we handled the laser grading, drainage, installation of geotextile and installation of rock base,” said Eagle Golf Vice-President Tommy Shook. “Our part of the construction started in August and we finished just after Thanksgiving. We worked one six-man crew about 60 hours a week.”

As far as the biggest obstacles with this job, said Shook, “The size of the field was bigger than normal, but other than time, there were really not any other changes in construction scopes.”

The company’s work involved handling the laser grade subgrade, installation of irrigation around the outside of the field, installation of the storm drainage lines and installation of nailer boards on the curbs to anchor the turf once it was put in place. Installation of geotextile, flat composite drains, drainage rock and compaction also had to be completed.

Equipment used included a small dozer, dump trucks, rollers, tractors and laser and dump trailers. Materials included approximately 10,000 linear ft. (3,048 m) of HDPE pipe for drainage, roughly 600,000 sq. ft. (55,741 sq m) geotextile, composite drains, treated two by fourmaterial for anchor boards and an estimated 17,000 tons (15,422 t) of limestone rock for the drainage layers.

A check for tolerances also was required before the turf crews could start their operations. According to Shook, “I think these synthetic turf fields are great, especially with the amount of usage the fields get these days. It is becoming harder and harder to maintain grass soccer fields during the soccer seasons with the amount of wear and tear on them.”

Covington Flooring, a subcontractor to MG&A, was responsible for the installation of the synthetic turf for the complex, which began in mid-October and was expected to be completed by the end of January.

“The biggest challenges on a project of this size is more one of logistics,” explained Covington’s Rich Johnson. “A regular football/soccer field is usually around 100,000 square feet. This project is almost 500,000 square feet, all being installed at once.

“The field is comprised of an upper and lower section. The upper section is approximately 280,000 and the lower section is 220,000. The field has a combination of sand and rubber infill. The field is accessible on both sides. However, the far side of the fields really isn’t capable of being able to handle staging supplies. So, it is quite difficult to have to load the sand and rubber from the one side and haul it over the other field. If there were room on the other side, we would be able to stage the materials on both sides and infill more quickly.”

Crews used lulls with a carpet pole attachment to unload the turf and stage them in the proper order on the fields. Lulls also were utilized to unload and move the 2,000-lb. (907 kg) bags of sand and rubber.

“We use a specialized machine that spreads the sand and rubber at a prescribed amount per square foot to ensure even distribution throughout the field,” Johnson said. “We then use a tractor with a brush attachment and carefully work the sand and rubber into the turf. We’ve had 12 men on the site, and they work from sun up to sun down. And weather has been a factor. After a dry summer, the rains came when we started installing the turf. We have had many days of delay due to rain.”

Added Johnson, “The visitors will be greeted by a vast expanse of green turf that stands in stark contrast to the parking lot and hills and trees surrounding the complex. We have visited many sites in Germany, which is Polytan’s headquarters, and the look of the Vestavia complex is very similar to the beautifully planned and landscaped soccer pitches there. The scene is very picturesque.”

Work on the complex began early last year. The estimated completion date for the entire project is spring of 2011. CEG

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