A version of this article appeared on print in our November 2016 issue.
Almost a year ago Wellesley High School started soliciting donations for a state of the art new track and field, to replace the one that Wellesley High teams have played on since the founding of the school in 1938. Now, almost a year and a half later, the football team played the first game on the field on October 29.
The new field is named, “Connor Darcey Memorial Field,” in honor of the Wellesley athlete who died in 2015. A plaque at the field depicts Darcey’s achievements at the high school. It also features a donor wall showing the names of major donors who sponsored the new track and field. Additionally, the field now has two entrances with ticket booths on both sides. It also boasts a new scoreboard, soccer goals, lacrosse nets, football goals, hurdles, and high jump equipment. The field will also have new home and away benches for the teams and new bleachers for fans of the away team.
The new field and track are made out of what Athletic Director Mr. John Brown said are the “newest and best materials that can be bought by the Athletic Office”. Brown also stressed that the field is made up of top of the line turf, and green virgin rubber pellets called “TPE” pellets that do not cause cancer like many of the other turf fields around the country, which use pellets made out of ground tires. This field will be one of the first in the country to use this brand new pellet technology, mainly used at various venues around Europe.
Delays on the field’s construction disrupted practices and games planned for the new field come this fall.
One of the many reasons behind the delays has been the fact that the Natural Resource Commision of Wellesley owns the field. The Commision on Natural Resources cares for the green spaces throughout Wellesley’s public areas, which include the space where the new turf field is located on Rice street, a one minute walk from the school, and the Hunnewell public playing fields next to it. They own the land where the field is located and control what goes on with the field– from the laying down of the turf to determining if the high school is allowed to put up lights during night sports games.
The high school Athletic Department is required to get permission for grants and permits on every change to the plan for the field from the Natural Resource Commision. Passing these permits can take up to several months if the two sides are unable to agree on whether or not to implant that change. Coming to mutual agreements on these nitty-gritty contract deals explains in part the delay in the field’s completion.
Another reason for the delay is the fact the the field was not available for student use because, until the construction vehicles left off the field, it was considered an active construction site. Because of this status, sports teams were not allowed to practice on the turf until its opening on October 28. The Athletic Department stressed the importance of not opening the field until the vehicles moved because of liability issues of a players gets injuring themselves on a construction site.
On top of this, the Athletic Department must approve the field’s insurance before anyone can start playing on it.
Because of these realities, Wellesley’s Department of Public Works was unable to start construction of the field until late summer. This pushed back the whole timetable for making the field, which was initially planned to open on September 27.
The track remains unfinished, and no track teams have run on it so far. Construction for that will likely end three weeks after teams are finished with their home playoff games, which will most likely last a week or two into November. It will certainly be done for teams come the spring, the Athletic Department said.
The Department of Public Works in Wellesley must put down the concrete underlayer of the track, the track itself, and the paint and lines on top. While this takes place, the field will once again be considered a construction site, and field teams will not be able to play on it. Keeping this in mind, the Athletic Department has delayed this process until the completion of all fall sports.