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Lower Swatara board hears plans for MAHS athletic field

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 4/24/19

Middletown Area School District presented its plans for a 500-seat synthetic turf field to the Lower Swatara Board of Commissioners during its April 17 meeting.

The commissioners questioned …

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Lower Swatara board hears plans for MAHS athletic field

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Middletown Area School District presented its plans for a 500-seat synthetic turf field to the Lower Swatara Board of Commissioners during its April 17 meeting.

The commissioners questioned whether the field could handle copious amounts of run-off rainwater, and if neighbors would see the field lights.

The project is estimated to cost about $3.5 million. According to consulting architect Dave Horn of Architerra, the goal is to finish before August 2020.

Horn told the commissioners that the school district asked Architerra 18 months ago to examine MASD’s athletic needs, and the study indicated that the district required another nine athletic fields.

A synthetic field with lights is equivalent to at least three athletic fields, Horn said.

The synthetic field would be located between the high school parking lot and the Pennsylvania Turnpike on what are now fields three and four.

The field would be used by soccer, field hockey, youth and non-varsity football teams along with physical education classes and band practice.

The plan is being submitted as a stormwater management plan, which means that it only needs to be reviewed by the township engineer, although project engineer Holly Evans of Evans Engineering said the district wanted to bring it before the commissioners to be open with the township.

The board does not have to vote on the plan.

Commissioner Chris DeHart recalled a 2011 flood where a “wall of water” flowed down North Union Street.

DeHart, who used to serve as fire chief, recalled driving through 2 feet of water. He asked how the field would handle a large amount of rain.

“Make sure you plan for it. It happened before, and it will happen again,” DeHart said.

Horn replied that the field is the highest point in the project area. Water would have to go up a hill to reach the field.

Stormwater would be managed in a basin under the field.

MASD is proposing a one-story, 4,500-square foot athletic amenities building which would house a concession stand, restrooms, two team rooms, a trainer’s triage room, officials’ dressing room and maintenance room. There would be a small press box on top of the bleachers.

The field would be illuminated. DeHart noted there were homes nearby. Horn said the impact of the lights would be minimal.

Commissioner Ron Paul asked if engineers had inspected a pipe under the future field. MASD Director of Operations William Meiser said the pipe was inspected when the new high school was built and they were happy how it looked at the time.