New artificial turf on the upper field of So Pas Middle School and new basketball courts down below are on target to be completed in the next few weeks. Photo by Steve Whitmore

The dirt has given way to sparkling green artificial turf with cork infill surrounded by a seamless asphalt running track with new tennis and basketball courts replacing the old, tired crack-ridden cement that actually became unsafe to use.

This transformation is occurring at South Pasadena’s Middle School driven by a $98 million bond known as Measure SP, which was approved by voters in 2016.

School officials have made a point that this is much more than a facelift, it was long overdue and opens up the area to use again for the school and the community.

“The courts were unusable, with huge cracks everywhere and the field was grass so basically it was dirt,” said South Pasadena Unified School District Superintendent Geoff Yantz, Ed.D. “This is going to be fantastic.”

The School Board approved the conceptual layout for the fields and hard courts that included new artificial turf with cork infill, new asphalt track, new tennis courts and equipment, new hard courts, new basketball court asphalt and equipment, infrastructure for solar arrays, new drinking water stations, and ADA accessible ramps.

The entire project, of which the fields and courts are one part, is estimated to cost about $2.4 million, according to information provided by Allison Anderson, School District bond construction coordinator. The project began on January of this year and is anticipated to be completed before month’s end. The bid amount to Asphalt Fabric engineering was $1.58 million, which covers the work on the playing field areas, Anderson said.

The new artificial turf where many a future soccer game will be played has a cork infill that gives the ground a slight cushion effect. A new asphalt running track encircles the upper field. Photo by Steve Whitmore

As with any construction project, there were a few surprises such as the retaining wall.

“It was discovered that the retaining wall between the upper and lower fields was cracked and failing in several areas and flexing outward,” Anderson said in an email to The Review. “There were concerns that the wall would not hold up while performing paving activities and other work. The cost to build a new wall would be significant and would delay project completion.” Officials finally decided to remove the wall, which led to modifications to the project.

Although the upper field will be a special turf with a cork infill that gives the ground a slight cushion effect, the lower field will be a natural turf known as Bandera Bermuda grass.  The project is on budget and on schedule, Anderson said.

“This is very exciting,” said Middle School Principal Dave Kubela. “We are going to have state-of-the-art playing fields, and these are built to last. Finally, we will have our fields back.”

Steve Whitmore
Author

Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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