On Tuesday night, the Public Building Commission (PBC) met at Newton City Hall to discuss various public facility-related issues.

Among those items were three improvements to facilities in Athletic Park: the replacement of (some) damaged turf at Fischer Field, repairs to the Fischer grandstand and the potential for cutting costs related to an intended bathroom/concession facility – serving both Fischer and Kelsch Field.

Suzanne Loomis, who is director of Public Works for the City of Newton, said Newton Recreation Commission (NRC) staff noticed some deterioration of white portions of turf at Fischer Field in November of 2016 – specifically the turf of line markings and numbers.

Turf grass blades in those areas were noticeably shorter than turf in other colors or areas, Loomis said, which is similar to a problem with the original turf. In response to the previous problem, Field Turf came in and replaced some problematic turf areas.

Loomis said the white turf does not stand up to UV rays as well as other types, which causes the ends of turf blades to be less durable.

Loomis contacted Field Turf on Nov. 7, 2016, sending pictures of the issue and explaining staff concerns.

Since the turf is only two years old, Loomis said she and her team wanted to get the issue taken care of via the warranty. Problems with the turf can create trip hazards if patches continue to degrade.

An inspector from Field Turf came on Jan. 27, 2017 to look at the turf and later met with staff. That (third party) inspector said Field Turf had used the wrong material for the white and yellow inserted areas (such as numbers and hash marks) on the the locations where they have to shave and glue into the factory made (already installed) material.

Loomis said Field Turf will decide a course of action and contact the PBC after the inspector reports back.

At the July 2016 PBC meeting, the building commission learned that concrete pieces had fallen from the ceiling inside of the Fischer Field grandstand – from the underside of the grandstand's seating.

Loomis said spalling was observed in the locker room area and between the two locker rooms – with a longitudinal crack and exposed rebar, including some corrosion, as well as additional hairline cracks.

Since the facility is very old, but still key to community functions, Loomis said staff had wanted another set of eyes on the issue, so they called in Professional Engineering Consultants (PEC) Wes Britson to provide an expert opinion.

At that time, Britson provided a detailed report, recommending (among other things) the removal of loose spalling material underneath the grandstand, sealing the top side of the stadium grandstand and providing positive drainage of the grandstand's surface.

Loomis said the issue with the grandstand is that water from the its topside is coming in contact with rebar on the inside the grandstand's concrete. When water reaches that rebar, it swells, popping off concrete.

After Britson's analysis, Loomis said the NRC and engineering staff met with Chad Pollet of Restoration and Waterproofing Contractors, Inc. out of Wichita.

Staff showed Pollet the grandstand, explaining its issues, asked his opinion on repairs, provided the PEC report, as well as additional drawings of the grandstand for the purposes of estimating – then asked for a quote.

After lengthy exchanges with with both PEC and Pollet about absolutely needed repairs, Loomis said both she and PEC agreed that Waterproofing Contractors is providing a quality product and is experienced in such situations.

Loomis also said staff determined that performing the work all at once instead of in phases is significantly less expensive and should be pursued. Were that to happen, the final quote to seal and level the entire grandstand seating area would be $88,663.

Waterproofing Contractors, Inc could complete the work in a few weeks – once Loomis said they are able to program into their schedule.

Loomis noted that she also asked Waterproofing Contractors, Inc to price the spalling repairs and joint sealing in the locker room/restroom area under the grandstand and is waiting to see if they the company can provide that cost. Loomis estimated it would be approximately $5,000.

"We did not obtain other quotes on this work as the price seemed reasonable," Loomis said. "The company was very easy to work with and quite knowledgeable, and spent a lot of time researching the best product for the job that met with PEC’s approval."

Regarding a restroom/concession building to serve both Kelsch and Fischer fields, Loomis said the project was bid out July 19, 2016, with the low bid coming from Preferred Builders, Inc. for $320,331.

At that time, the PBC Board voted 6-0 to reject all the bids, as all bids were above the architect’s cost estimate.

Architects who visited the bidders found that the high bids were due to a number of unusual factors at that time.

Assuming those changes, Loomis said the low bid for Preferred Builders would have been $265,066, and bidders said bidding would be better at this time, and more time would exist for building.

With this in mind, and cost of the Fischer Field grandstand improvements known, Loomis said it was a prime time for the PBC to rebid the project.

Adding to that thought, Loomis suggested another option for the PBC's consideration – to rebid the project with no concession stand.

Instead, the space for the concession stand could be used as a covered space, or an overhang, that would be available to set up tables and sell concessions in the open air, but under a covered roof.

Architects are determining any design fees to make this change and the estimated cost savings for such a structure. Loomis said staff could assume a $20,000 to $30,000 savings.

When asked whether removing the previously planned concession stand was something he felt comfortable with, NRC Superintendent Brian Bascue suggested the bathrooms are of the most importance.

If cutting the new concession area could help bathrooms to be built, Bascue said he approved.

Newton City Manager Bob Myers said the Fischer/Kelsch Field restrooms were already part of the Capital Improvement Master Plan. For that reason, they will not require approval from outside the PBC.

Replacement of turf at Fischer Field will not require any immediate action, and due to the interlocal agreement, the Fischer Field grandstand will require additional approval from the NRC, USD 373 and the Newton City Commission.