CUMBERLAND – The Town Council is not scheduled to convene this month. Those plans have changed thanks to the proposed significant upgrades to the football and track portions of Tucker Field.
Parks and Recreation Director Michael Crawley confirmed earlier in the week that everything’s in place for the council to gather this coming Wednesday night. The hope is that this special meeting will bring the town one step closer to commencing a construction project that some will say is long overdue.
Originally, the groundbreaking on a project that would bring FieldTurf and a new track surface to the multipurpose field was scheduled to get underway in mid-June. Plans were halted as the sides sought to bridge the roughly $300,000 gap between the price tag submitted by one of the interested groups and what the town willing to pay.
The longer the delay persists, the more remote it becomes that the project will reach completion by the time fall sports gets underway at Cumberland High. Analyzing the possible fallout figures to come up at some point during Wednesday’s council session.
This elaborate project contains a suggested timetable of 6-8 weeks and is expected to cost a little over $1 million. According to Crawley, the biggest issue has to do with resurfacing the track. There’s a 28-day waiting period after putting down the initial coat.
One company of note that’s come forward is R.A.D. Sports. Based in Rockland, Mass., their client base includes Gillette Stadium in addition to Rhode Island colleges such as Brown, Salve Regina, Roger Williams and URI.
“We took two companies in to see what we could work with and get a breakdown of some better prices,” Crawley said. “R.A.D. Sports was the lowest bidder because we would get a $50,000 FieldTurf grant from FieldTurf, The Company.”
Aware of the impact of what a not-ready Tucker Field would mean to his football, field hockey and boys’ and girls’ soccer programs, Cumberland High Athletic Director Frank Geiselman noted that he has gone “from Plan A to Plan B. With Plan B, we’re set. As soon as something else changes, I’m going to go to Plan C, which will then entail coming up with some different things.
“When the schedules first came out in the spring, I tried to schedule every possible game on the new field,” continued Geiselman. “We want the turf so we can do as much as we can.”
Cumberland football has only one home game during September, a non-leaguer against Cranston West on Friday the 13th. If the improvements to Tucker Field are not completed by the time the defending Division II Super Bowl champs play host to St. Raphael on Friday, October 4, Geiselman said “we’re just going to have to look at alternatives” as far as finding a venue.
“There are a couple of things that I’ve thought about and avenues that I can explore, but I haven’t spoken to those people yet,” notes Geiselman.
The field hockey team has an early-season contest scheduled at Tucker Field “that can easily be moved to the baseball field,” says Geiselman. “It would just have to be an afternoon game instead of an evening game.”
Cumberland’s two varsity soccer teams can have their games relocated to the rear field situated behind Tucker Field. As far as other fall tenants who count on Tucker Field, Crawley informed officials from the Cumberland Colts Youth Football Organization to refrain from scheduling contests for September “just to be on the safe side.”
Asked if he would have to make the R.I. Interscholastic League aware in the event that Cumberland home games are not played at Tucker, Geiselman explained that as long as the designated venue is posted on the league’s website, there won’t be too much of a hassle.
The athletic director raised the caution flag, however, in the event that a Cumberland home contest is moved someplace else on a day where the playing spot that was being targeted is already in use.
“If you have to go to another day, that presents a little more of a problem,” said Geiselman.
Crawley and Geiselman no doubt echo the sentiment of many in Cumberland when talking about the long-term benefits to a refurbished Tucker Field.
“The rescheduling and things like that are well worth it if I know that we’ll be able to move forward with getting the surface we want down there so that the high-school athlete can play on it during the fall and spring,” Geiselman said. “Also, so that the community can use it for youth soccer, football and lacrosse.
“I don’t mind adjusting some schedules in September if we’re moving in that direction,” he continued. “It will be well worth it if we can get it done and getting everybody using it.”
Added Crawley, “It may inconvenience a couple of games, but you’re going to have a beautiful field when all is said and done.”
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter at @BWMcGair03