Lombardi begins planning for new turf field

Lombardi begins planning for new turf field

Mayor Charles Lombardi, left, and Chief of Staff G. Richard Fossa, right, look over concepts for a new and improved football field behind North Providence High School with John Chaffin of RAD Sports last week.

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Mayor Charles Lombardi met last week with representatives from two companies as he begins to formulate plans for renovating the football field complex behind North Providence High School on Mineral Spring Avenue.

“It’s sorely needed,” he said.

After meeting with representatives from RAD Sports and Gale Associates, Lombardi said he now believes that a new synthetic fabric field is the way to go as the town looks to do the renovations.

He said he knows he previously said he wasn’t a big fan of artificial turf, due to concerns among some about potential health impacts of crumb rubber on student-athletes, but representatives from RAD and Gale, both with experience installing similar facilities all over New England, persuaded him that the newest synthetic fabric is as safe as it comes. Also important, he said, is that an artificial surface will impact the longevity of the field.

Based on last week’s conversations, said Lombardi, the best option to be able to fit the new field and a new track around it might be to angle it somewhat. There is some property next to the existing field that isn’t currently being utilized, he said, and it could help accommodate a larger and reconfigured facility.

He said he was really impressed with the initial suggestions offered by the experts.

“They’ve got a ton of knowledge,” he said. “I think this is probably the way to go.”

Renovating the high school field has been a priority for a while, said Lombardi, but now the town has federal money of $9.4 million coming and has to spend it within four years. The mayor said a portion of it should go to athletic facilities. He said he also plans to address shortcomings at other ballfields in town, saying he spoke last week with multiple people who run leagues around town.

The town is now waiting on drawings from the two companies on a new regulation-sized field and amenities such as new restrooms. Lombardi said this is the first step in what will be a months-long process, including having an engineer determine exactly what can be done.

“In my opinion, this is going to happen,” he said. “It’s all speculation until the engineer comes in.”

He said officials will keep asking questions and providing information as the project comes closer to fruition.

“I’m happy about it and I think the people are looking forward to it also,” he said.

The current natural grass field has deteriorated badly over the years, despite efforts to maintain it.