GHS football

Gainesville Independent School District recently finished its indoor turf athletic facilities and it is continuing with turf installation, this time for the baseball and softball fields.

On Monday, July 15, at the GISD school board meeting, the district board is set pick a vendor to install the turf fields along with tennis courts.

GISD Superintendent DesMontes Stewart said this move has been in the works for a while.

“As I have engaged in long-range planning for the district, I actually presented this idea later to find out that it had been a topic of discussion in years past,” Stewart said. “I simply have explained the many benefits that having turf fields presents to our GISD community and how it could have a positive impact upon our athletic teams. Furthermore, [we will be] able to save on the man hours needed to maintain a grass field, irrigation, seeding, stripping and all of the other associated costs with maintaining a grass field.”

Stewart said the maximum budget for the turf fields is $1.5 million and the maximum for the tennis courts is $1 million and that one vendor responded to GISD’s request for quotation.

Stewart said the board will review the vendor’s design and then work through project-specific items such as fencing and electrical.

The bid process has been ongoing since before Stewart made the decision to turf the fields.

“There were companies contacting my office prior to me deciding to turf our fields,” Stewart said. “They were all similar in nature. They wanted to speak to me about the services that they provided, refer me to jobs locally and nationally that they had completed and wanted to express their interest in working with our district. I receive the same communications from software companies, educational technology companies and social service providers. It’s pretty typical.”

Stewart said the deciding factors for picking which turfing company to work with are experience with such projects, reputation in the industry, schedule control and process of planning and management.

Stewart was passionate about what the turf fields and tennis courts would do for the district’s athletic programs.

“[It is] very important,” Stewart said. “By turfing the fields it provides a surface that is playable despite rain. From an upkeep perspective it also will require less man hours to maintain which could be used in other areas around campus.”

With rain an issue for athletics for nearly every school in Cooke County, Stewart said the turf will be very important for avoiding cancellations due to weather.

“We will no longer have to cancel or scramble to find make-up game locations in the event of rain,” Stewart said. “Also, it would provide a place for our youth leagues to play in the event their fields became saturated with water.”

Stewart said the fact that GISD already had a turf football field and turf practice facility made the decision to turf the baseball and softball fields easier.

“Turf fields have to be serviced routinely and by having all of our fields turfed we could then look to package all of the service arrangements into one job,” Stewart said. “The other and obvious benefit to turfing these fields would be the consistency of playing surfaces for our student-athletes.”

Stewart said GISD athletic director James Polk was not directly involved in the evaluating of the bids, but Stewart said he consulted him for his experience with previous turf installations.

“There have not been any conversations with Polk about the decision-making process,” Stewart said. “As the athletic director, I have asked him about items such as specs, design and to research other projects regionally that were comparable to what I envisioned being built since he has been through this process before.”

Patrick Hayslip can be reached at sports@gainesvilleregister.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip