Work progressing on schedule on new athletic fields

Despite pending litigation, most construction projects at Free State and Lawrence high schools are on schedule to be ready for the spring sport season, school leaders say.

According to Tom Bracciano, division director of operations and facility planning for the Lawrence school district, the baseball fields will be ready to for action come spring, while softball fields will be completed during the summer.

“We’re pretty comfortable that all of our spring sports will be able to participate,” said Bracciano.

The tentative plan is to lay turf on the Free State football field starting today, and to start the same work at LHS the next week. Bracciano is hoping the football field at Free State will be finished by Jan. 1.

At the Nov. 24 school board meeting, board members approved the purchase of turf for the baseball fields after Douglas County District Judge Michael Malone lifted a temporary restraining order against the schools district and the city.

“We wouldn’t have been able to get it installed before baseball season started, so that was a critical date that we were able to make,” Bracciano said.

The turf factory the district is ordering the new fields from closes Dec. 15, so, “The restraining order being lifted certainly did help,” Bracciano said.

Bracciano said there may be some issues with the LHS track in the spring. He is hoping the asphalt is down, but temperatures need to cooperate to lay the polyurethane topcoat. It must be consistently above 45 degrees for about a week in order to do the work. “It’s going to be a very tight schedule to get that track finished,” he said.

Fields at LHS and the Lawrence Virtual School site are still under pending litigation filed by the Centennial Neighborhood Association. Ed Collister, an attorney for the group, says as far as he knows, the lawsuit will move ahead.

“Find somebody who’s followed any litigation processes that occur,” he said. “I can’t tell you what’ll happen because I’m not sure what’ll happen.”

But Bracciano says the restraining order didn’t do much harm to the overall plan.

“If it had gone on a little bit further, I think we could’ve had some issues,” he said. “But we’ve made pretty good progress.”