WHS turf field fix moves forward

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The Waterloo School Board unanimously authorized entering into an agreement with the school district’s architect to work on the turf athletic field and track at Waterloo High School at its meeting Monday night. 

Superintendent Brian Charron said the technical consulting services agreement with Hurst-Rosche is for $30,000 and covers engineering required for “water containment and flood prevention on the property around the football field and track,” along with designing and overseeing the repair and replacement of those surfaces. 

“The track is going to be resurfaced, the turf is going to be replaced, and the foundation underneath the turf is going to be examined and the drainage system underneath investigated,” Charron said. 

This work is needed because heavy rains in August caused water and silt from an adjoining farmer’s fields to the south and west of the complex to pour over the berm protecting the facility, overwhelming the drainage system and covering the entire field and multiple lanes of the track. 

The field, which sits at a lower elevation than the surrounding land, has flooded around six times before, with the August event being the second significant occurrence. 

The district has been working to determine what needs to be done to repair the damage and prevent further flooding since the summer, but there have been delays. 

“We have been wanting to get this done as soon as possible so we can address this and get the work done,” Charron said. 

Some of the delays have been as a result of the pandemic, with individuals working on this project being forced to quarantine. 

Other problems have arisen because of engineering difficulties associated with determining how to prevent flooding. 

“We can’t change anything on our property that would cause flooding on someone else’s property,” Charron explained. 

“We don’t care where the water goes on our property, as long as it doesn’t go back on the football field and track,” he added. 

Hurst-Rosche has visited the high school about six times to examine the area. 

At this point, Charron said work will most likely be done over the summer, so the district is determining a temporary fix that will allow some activities to take place on the field and track in the spring. 

“Not everyone feels the inconvenience because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, but if you were used to (using the complex), you’d be very frustrated right now because of access,” he noted. 

Charron said the district should have a clearer idea of the budget and timeline for this project in about a month. 

He also informed the board that he and other superintendents participated in a Zoom call with Illinois State Superintendent Carmen Ayala. 

One point of emphasis on that call was the success of in-person learning. 

“What we’ve learned is we can have a lot of people together in one place, and when everyone is wearing a mask, there is very little spread of the virus,” Charron said. “I’m proud of all of our staff for making sure kids are wearing them. There’s way more support among kids for wearing the mask than I thought we would have. It has become second nature, and it has made in-person learning possible.” 

Given that, Charron said he and other superintendents stressed that they would like to see some changes on what schools are able to do because they believe some of the limitations are unnecessary and result in excess quarantining of staff and students. 

“It seemed like they listened, but I don’t know if it will go anywhere,” Charron said. 

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