History of Progress on Athletic Facilities Improvements - Find background and supporting information

  • Project Advisory Team on Athletic Field Improvements

    Committee Evolution and Background

    During the spring of 2010, a community-based group interested in improving PCSD athletic fields presented a proposal to the Board of Education. The proposal suggested adding field lights and/or synthetic turf fields at some secondary schools in the District. Seeking more detailed information, the Board of Education asked the Superintendent to form a committee to provide further study on this subject.

    The committee, called the Project Advisory Team, analyzed the information provided by the community group, studied field use, and recommended potential options for improving facilities and fields. The Committee’s findings were presented to the Board of Education in June 2011.

    The Project Advisory Team is composed of representatives from various constituencies, including parents, faculty, staff and community members-at-large. The team met periodically between October – March 2011. Meeting minutes and updates are posted in the links below.

    The Project Advisory Team recommended lights and synthetic turf for the current Sutherland High School stadium. The Team also recommended that a new complex be developed with lights and turf behind Mendon High School and that the current MHS stadium remain as is. 

    Overview of June 2011 Project Advisory Team Report

    The Pittsford Central School District currently maintains approximately 50 fields which are used by physical education classes and 133 PCSD athletic and community teams. The seasonal field use recommendation for the Western New York climate is 16-20 uses per season. PCSD currently uses its prime fields 35-40 times per season. This heavy use puts stress on the quality of the playing field and eliminates necessary field resting time. The Project Advisory team concluded that demand on current grass fields is beyond the ability of the fields to recover.

    Synthetic turf fields provide advantages including longer playing seasons, reduced delays and conflicts, multiple-use flexibility, less travel to other playing (synthetic turf) sites, ability to implement a grass-field rehabilitation and rotation schedule, improved practice and physical education class schedules, the ability to host playoff competitions, and improved competitive advantages.

    Both grass and synthetic turf fields require annual maintenance for continued operation. Synthetic turf fields with lines sewn in do not require lining or mowing, but do require periodic grooming and washing. It is estimated that synthetic turf could yield annual operating cost savings, while providing significantly more use time and flexibility. 

    Synthetic turf has an initial installation cost that would be partially offset by NYS Building Aid. Synthetic turf also needs to be replaced due to the breakdown of fibers, less density and compaction of subsurface, due to wear. While less than the initial cost, there is additional Capital Cost of replacement every fifteen years or so that is not eligible for aid [UPDATE 1-7-12: NYS may provide some aid on replacement costs]. 

    The addition of lights to the outdoor athletic fields would increase the field use time available for contests and practices. Light shed and use would be studied and limited.

    Board of Education Work Sessions

    To study these recommendations and consider other potential options the Board of Education has established three work sessions to review data and discuss pros and cons of all options.  Topic areas have been selected for each work session. Workshops will be held at Barker Road Middle School in Meeting Room One, as follows:

    July 11, 2011, 5:30pm                     Field Use and State Aid

    July 20, 2011, 6:00 – 8:00pm           Athletic Contests, practices, physical education usage, and

                                                      travel needs

    August 8, 2011, 5:30 pm                  Research on Synthetic Turf, Lights, Timelines and

    (Board meeting at 7:00pm)               processes for Project Development

    The public is welcome to observe the Board’s work sessions. When the Board determines they have assembled and processed sufficient information they will render a decision on whether to proceed to Stages Two and Three of the Charge to the Project Advisory Team.

    After the three workshop sessions, if the Board decides to progress, the following would be required:

    -          Further development of the Board selected options(s) by working with the professionals in construction/project development, financial advisors, communications, and others as necessary.

    -          Draft a communication plan to seek input from the community. The intent of this plan is to assess the interest and willingness of the broader community in proceeding with further planning and a formal project. 

    If, after receiving broader community input, the Board gives the approval to proceed to referendum, a timeline and plan to present to a proposal to the voters would be developed and implemented.

    January 9, 2012 Board Workshop

    The Board of Education is holding a workshop session on Monday, January 9, 2012 at 5:30-7:00pm in the BRMS cafeteria to review and discuss potential improvements to athletic fields. Community members interested in hearing about the Athletic Field Feasibility Study are invited to attend. The intent of the Board workshop is for Board members to hear from the District’s architect about the Feasibility Study and to ask the architect clarifying questions regarding the study. If time remains, the Board will discuss whether or not they want to pursue any additional steps in addressing athletic field issues.

    The public is encouraged to attend and hear the report and the deliberations of the Board. The report will be available here on the District website on Tuesday, January 10, 2012, after the Board has reviewed it. 

    The Board values the input of the community regarding this topic and, while the Board workshop is not intended for that purpose, structured opportunities to do so will be provided in the future. Also, the Board reads and takes into consideration emails/letters or other communications about this or any other topic related to Board work.

    Those interested in reviewing the history of the project and the work done to date, may click on the link below.

    January 23, 2012 Board Workshop

    The PCSD Board of Education is holding the fifth in a series of workshops to review and discuss potential athletic field improvements.

    The Monday, January 23, 2012 Workshop will be held at Barker Road Middle School in the auditorium at 5:30pm. A Board of Education Meeting is scheduled to commence at 7:00pm in Meeting Room One.

    The Board Workshops are open to the public and residents are encouraged to attend. Residents can hear Board members engaged in discussing athletic field improvement possibilities and options. The Board values the input of the community regarding this topic and, while the Board workshop is not intended for that purpose, structured opportunities to do so will be provided in the future. Also, the Board reads and takes into consideration emails/letters or other communications about this or any other topic related to Board work.

    Details about the progress of this topic and the Project Advisory Team's process can be found at the link below.

    January 30, 2012 Board Workshop

    The Board of Education is meeting in a workshop session to discuss potential athletic field improvements on Monday, January 30, 2012 between 5:30-7:00pm. The workshop will be held in the Barker Road Middle School auditorium.

    This workshop is open to the public and residents are encouraged to attend. The purpose of the workshop is for Board members to continue their discussion about athletic field improvement possibilities and options. While the Board values the input of the community regarding this topic, this workshop is not intended for that purpose. Structured opportunities to provide input will be provided in the future. If you are interested in doing so, the Board reads and takes into consideration emails/letters or other communications about this or any other topic related to Board work.

    January 31, 2012

    Board of Education Advances Synthetic Turf and Light Discussion to Next Stage

    At a special Board of Education workshop on January 30, 2012, the Board of Education indicated agreement to move forward with additional research and planning relative to adding synthetic turf and lights at Pittsford’s two high schools. Input from the community, the work of a District Project Advisory Team and a professional Feasibility Study indicated that the District’s athletic fields are overused and showing signs of deterioration.

    It was documented that the District’s current natural grass fields are overused by 200-400% which eliminates time for natural grass to “rest and recover” and to have more thorough maintenance done. The grass fields are also experiencing issues such as insufficient drainage and the loss of “crowns” that further contributes to the drainage issues.

    The working model that the Board of Education will evaluate further includes the following elements:

    -          Mendon High School –         Add synthetic turf to existing stadium

    Resurface existing track

    Develop new synthetic turf field with lights on back fields

    -          Sutherland High School –     Add synthetic turf and lights to existing stadium

    -          Expand maintenance practices on existing natural turf fields to include recovery time, aerating and re-establishment of field crowns

    The next step in the referendum process includes further defining the project scope outlined above and developing more detailed cost estimates. Facility improvements, as determined by the District’s Building Condition Report, will be wrapped into a proposal to improve non-athletic items along with the field improvements. The District will work with its architectural firm to establish a project timeline that will include activities such as public comment periods, public information sessions, a review with the State Education Department, and an environmental review process (SEQRA).  Following these activities, final plans will be determined, and the Board anticipates establishing a date to hold a community referendum.

    At the next meeting of the Board of Education on February 13, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. in Meeting Room 1 at Barker Road Middle School, the Board is expected to approve a contract to begin the SEQRA process.

    March 2012 Update 

    The District is currently working through a process to further develop a plan for athletic field improvements. The goal of the evolving plan is to address the availability and quality of fields for physical education classes and athletic sport purposes. As of the beginning of March, the following steps are underway:

    -          The Board approved moving forward with the State Environmental Quality Review Process (SEQRA).

    -          The District’s architects, attorneys, and construction managers are pursuing the SEQRA and working to further develop potential plans, cost estimates and timelines.

    -          Community members are developing fund raising plans to assist with costs of any proposals that move forward.

    -          Items from the District’s Building Condition Survey are being considered for inclusion in a potential future project.

    It is important to note that there are many required steps before a project can be put to a community vote, including public comment periods, public information sessions, and a State Education Department review.

    Following these activities, the Board will determine next steps including establishing a date to hold a community referendum.


    May 2012 Update

    Town and School District collaborate on assessment of athletic field inventory

    The Town of Pittsford and the Pittsford Central School District (PCSD) have a strong history of collaboration. In keeping with this commitment, the entities have announced they will work together to address solutions to the overuse of athletic fields in Pittsford. The collaboration was proposed because PCSD is currently developing a capital project including athletic fields, and the Town will soon begin an update of its Parks and Recreation master plan that will include an assessment of athletic field use and needs. 

    The two entities will be exploring the development of an alternative to the currently proposed lighted artificial turf field on two existing natural turf fields behind Mendon High School. In lieu of this option, the respective boards of the Town and the School District will study the possibility of locating a lighted artificial turf field in the Town’s Thornell Farm Park which is next to Mendon High School.


    August 2012

    Planning for a Potential Capital Project


    At a workshop session on Tuesday, August 14, the Board of Education reviewed plans for a  potential capital project.   The District’s architect, construction manager and Assistant Superintendent for Business presented an overview of school building improvements,  athletic field improvements, tentative timeline for decisions, and an analysis of project costs.


    The potential project is designed primarily to address infrastructure improvements.  The project would also improve ADA access and update various code requirements.  A component of the project would address athletic field improvements at both high schools.  


    The Board indicated an interest in continuing with the project development through the fall with a potential public referendum in December, 2012.  The Board requested additional information about wording of propositions, further refinement of project scope and costs.  This information and more will be provided to the Board during regular Board of Education meetings starting in October.  If a project is pursued, public information will be provided as soon as available.



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