Friday, June 26, 2009
School Turf a Money Hog
By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Journal Staff Writer
Albuquerque Public Schools, like many property owners, probably wishes someone else would take care of the lawn.
The sod field at Double Eagle Elementary School in the Northeast Heights is being replaced by the district, to the tune of $39,000, despite $20,000 worth of work done last year.
APS took over maintenance of the field from Bernalillo County last year. The county had maintained it since the 1970s.
APS spokesman Rigo Chavez said Thursday that the district last summer reseeded and patched several portions of the field with sod. But Chavez said a poor drainage system foiled those efforts, and, by this year, the sod was getting torn up through regular use.
"The sod that was put down was put down incorrectly, and the soil was not properly prepared. So, although it looked nice, once the kids walked on it, it came up, which was causing a safety hazard because they couldn't run on it without pulling it all up," Chavez said.
This time, Chavez said APS will install a new sprinkler system and regrade the field to avoid pooling that had occurred in the past.
Work began in early June and should be done by the first week of July, Chavez said.
After the work last July, kids couldn't use the field until October, Chavez said. And when the work is done on the field this year, it will also take time before it's usable on so the grass can get established.
Bernalillo County had maintained the field as part of a joint use agreement that allowed the county to use the fields for its recreational programs, spokeswoman Liz Hamm said.
"But, over the course of the years, we've been able to build our own parks and facilities, so we've been turning those fields back over to APS," Hamm said.
Nearby resident Jean Wilkinson-Rodney said she wishes APS had gotten it right the first time.
"It's a waste of taxpayer dollars, and it's a shame that it's closed to children who want to play there," Wilkinson-Rodney said. "There's other schools that could use those resources, and it seems like they could use the money for something else in this economy."