Fenwick High School’s soccer/lacrosse field in Priory Park in River Forest will get synthetic turf next spring as part of a series of upgrades approved Sept. 26 by the River Forest Board of Trustees.

The surface will be installed on the field, which is located at the northwest corner of Harlem Avenue and Division Street. Fenwick leases the space from Dominican Province of St. Albert the Great, the order that oversees the high school.

Other improvements around that area include:

Installing an aluminum fence around the field to make the area more secure. 

Replacing the existing scoreboard with a new scoreboard; 

Installing a concrete pad for the bleachers. Today the bleachers sit on the ground. Adding concrete under the bleachers will make easier for maintenance. 

Restriping the parking lot and relocating the ADA spaces closer to the bleachers.  

Installing a concrete sidewalk to the existing portable toilets to improve accessibility. 

The school is studying what kind of turf that will be installed. In making that choice, Fenwick will take into consideration safety and other factors, said Nancy Bufalino, the school’s chief operating officer. 

At this stage, Fenwick is unsure of the total cost of the work, as it will depend on the turf and the fill associated with the field, Bufalino said. 

Fenwick plans to start work in early 2017 after the ground thaws and hopes to complete the project in May, Bufalino said. 

The initial request for the field came in February, at which time the school also asked to install field lighting. That was taken off the table in April after Fenwick officials found the cost was higher than it planned to spend. Fenwick found that making sure all the water drainage issues were addressed became a higher priority, Bufalino said.  

The use of synthetic turf should end the flooding and poor drainage that have plagued the field almost since it started being used for soccer 21 years ago. Those hazards impede “what we do, even in the summer,” Dennis Marani, a member of Fenwick’s board of directors and co-chairman of the school’s facilities committee, told trustees in February. 

Extended use of the field during the summer by summer camps damages the grass and affects the high school students’ ability to use the field for late summer and early fall practices, school officials said. 

The changes at the field constitute a minor amendment to the planned development permit issued in April 1994 that allowed for construction of Priory Estates. 

It also included the athletic fields at the Priory Park that are used by Fenwick High School.

Fenwick still has to present its plans for storm water detention to the village and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District before permits for the work can be issued, Bufalino said. 

While the requested amendment does not constitute a variation, village staff requested that it be approved by trustees with the condition that the detention system under the turf field must be built and maintained in a manner that will not increase the amount of storm water conveyed to the village’s sewer system.

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