Weather has slowed down field turf project at Waukesha schools

Dam Domach
As of Monday afternoon, 50 yards of turf had been laid across the Waukesha South football field. Waukesha South Athletic Director Dan Domach hopes to have the field ready in time for the start of football practices on Aug. 5.
Published on: 7/21/2014

Waukesha School District officials knew they were operating under a tight deadline when the field turf project began at the high schools.

Any hiccup or delay could impact the installation of the surface this summer. The weather, most importantly, needed to cooperate.

While the work at the fields are progressing at the four high schools now that the city is experiencing drier weather, the rainy start set back the completion of the field turf project at each.

Waukesha North just broke ground on its turf project last week and Catholic Memorial, which is partnering with the district for the project, doesn't appear that it will have its field ready for the start of football practices in a couple of weeks.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed that it will be ready for the first lower-level games in late August," Catholic Memorial Athletic Director Greg Gamalski said.

Gamalski said he expected all of the underground work to be done by the end of the week, so the turf can be installed by early next week.

"It won't be done in time for our fall practices as it takes two to three weeks to get the carpet down, along with the lining and creating the logos on the field," Gamalski said. "It's still time consuming."

Ready for opener

While his football teams had hoped to use the field as well in the early part of August, Waukesha West Athletic Director Kyle LeMieux said that appears unlikely, given that the turf has yet to be installed. But he still expects the field to be ready for West's home opener on Aug. 22.

"If that's the biggest issue we'll face, in the long run we'll be sitting well," LeMieux said.

Like Gamaliski, LeMieux said the actual turf installation is an extensive process and will take up to three weeks.

"The weather is definitely the most critical factor," said LeMieux, who otherwise praised construction crews for their efforts this summer.

Last to break ground

Waukesha North Athletic Director Brian Schlei said he's hoping that the late groundbreaking doesn't result in the team moving its first home game, scheduled for Aug. 22.

"We're just a little behind schedule," Schlei said. "We're still looking pretty good now that the rain has slowed down."

Schlei wouldn't say what would happen if the field isn't done in time, but said he might have to begin planning for that in the next week or two if the turf doesn't appear that it will be finished in time.

"The worst case is that we might have to change the date," Schlei said of the non-conference game against Port Washington. "We'll have a backup plan and figure out a way that it is at home."

South moving along

Luckily for Waukesha South Athletic Director Dan Domach, Waukesha South got a head start on turf installation in May and doesn't have to worry about that predicament.

"It was a great benefit that the South fields were built separate and it gave us the flexibility to start right away," Domach said.

South started earlier than West and North because its football field is separate from its track and soccer fields. As a result, South didn't have to wait for those spring sports seasons to finish.

Waukesha South recently finished all of the underground work that needed to be done for the project and just started laying the actual turf last weekend. As of Monday, South had the turf laid out across 30 yards of the field.

"Now it's the fun part," said Domach, who said the turf pieces come in 10-yard increments.

But Domach still said his school was impacted by the wet weather. He said it rained 20 of the 30 days in June and five of the first 10 in July.

"We couldn't work when it's been so wet," Domach said. "With our field, once it rained it needed a couple of days to dry out. We really wanted to be done with ours a lot sooner."

Getting excited

Nonetheless, Domach said he hopes that the turf will be fully installed by the end of the month and be ready for the football team's first practice on Aug. 5.

"It's really, really neat to see what it looks like," Domach said. "It's impressive and one of the neatest things I've been apart of. I took pictures and tweeted it out and everyone is excited. I don't think the kids can wait until the first day of practice."

The project, which has been in the works for almost four years, received board approval at a meeting in March, after the board approved a contract with SC Waukesha and the district.

The district is contributing half a million dollars through a property sales fund and SC Waukesha, a local soccer club, will pay an annual fee of $50,000 over 10 years with a $100,000 upfront payment.

"It's amazing now how quickly the process is going," LeMieux said, "The process in watching the change is extremely rewarding when you think about where we started."