North Siders came together on Saturday, just as their representative predicted they would, and completed the first phase of giving their primary school students a proper playfield.
District MLA Ezzard Miller had tried to get government to redo the facility and eliminate the uneven surface, which was often unusable after rain because of drainage problems.
After a district resident donated three container beds of artificial turf, Mr. Miller and school PTA president Carol Saunds decided that if the government budget could not accommodate the work any time soon, they would turn to the parents and district supporters to get the job done.
And they did.
On Saturday, seven men put in a full day’s work with no pay except for a “thank you.”
But their efforts had been preceded by the volunteer services of many others.
Mr. Miller pointed to “project consultant” Donovan Ebanks, retired deputy governor and a former chief engineer with the Public Works Department, who made preliminary recommendations and then stayed involved to monitor the work.
As a result, a site survey was done and then Apec Consulting Engineers drew up a blueprint to show what amounts of fill would be needed in which areas.
Betty Wood of KP’s Heavy Equipment donated 150 yards of fill. Truckers volunteered to haul the material, delivering it to the playfield earlier in the week.
The PTA then paid the National Roads Authority for the rental of four pieces of heavy equipment. Men in the district who work for the NRA donated their time and expertise.
Allan McLean drove the small Bobcat loader. Osmond Wright operated the loader. Chris Rivers used the grader blade to first scrape away grass and loose soil, then to even out the fill Mr. Wright’s machine deposited. The final step was compacting the fill and smoothing the surface: this was accomplished by Bal Watler aboard the roller.
There were spots the machines were too big to get to, especially along the side abutting the school building. Johnny Miller, Kyle Terry and his father Ashbert Terry were ready with shovels, rakes and even a sledge hammer to deal with fine details.
Work started shortly after 7 a.m. with preparations that included removal of game equipment, bleachers and light posts. The men took a brief break at noon for lunch provided by a district caterer. Then they were back to work, occasionally comparing notes under an almond tree, which site designers had been careful not to remove.
Mr. Miller had said that he wanted the work done during the week the children were on a mid-term break. Perhaps if school had been in session, the students would have been too fascinated by the activity outside to concentrate on studies indoors.
Mr. Miller expected that the next step of the process, marking the boundaries of the football field and perimeter track, would be completed early this week. Then the artificial turf will be installed across an area 75-feet wide and 150-feet long for playing football, he explained.
The PTA has been talking to a company about the laying of asphalt for an oval 500-foot walking/running track around the perimeter of the football field. There will also be a straight, 80-meter track where the younger children can practice for their shorter-distance races.