School Field Reopens After Renovation


The Laguna Beach High School athletic field renovation is on schedule to finish a week before the first day of the new school year and will reopen to the public Wednesday, Aug.  31, school officials said this week.

Workers finishing the Laguna Beach High School field, which closed in May for a multi-million dollar makeover. It reopens next week. photo by marilynn Young.
Workers finishing the Laguna Beach High School field, which closed in May for a multi-million dollar makeover. It reopens next week. photo by marilynn Young.

The estimated $3.2 million project was completed over four months for $2.6 million, said school district facilities director Jeffrey Dixon.

The finishing touch comes this weekend with striping of the track.

LBHS athletes have already held several practices on the new field and Dixon said, “the feedback is good.” The first football game to be played in the stadium on the new turf will be against La Quinta at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2.

Despite approval by some players, there is some concern by the soccer community, Tammy Skenderian, parent of a soccer player, told school board members at a meeting Tuesday, Aug. 23. She said field striping in the end zones doesn’t conform with what was agreed to earlier. “In the spring there was an understanding that there wouldn’t be the colored end zones,” she said.

“It’s done and it’s beautiful,” continued Skenderian, of end zones now emblazoned with the school name. She said, “when the boys and girls are in a challenging play, those lines and the reading of those lines can make a difference in their safety.”

She asked if the end zone “canopy” could be changed, a question referred to the superintendent.

Neither soccer coaches, the athletic director nor the principal, Chris Herzfeld, returned calls seeking comment about Skenderian’s query over field safety.

When Dixon was asked about the end zones changes, he said, “anything can be changed; it’s like a carpet in the house. The plans for the field were submitted and approved April 2016. It’s easy to change; it just takes money.”

Two new LED scoreboards that will light up the field and school pool at a cost of $200,000, half of which was funded by community donations through Schoolpower, a public-school support group. The LED scoreboard installed at the LBHS pool allowed water polo fans last week to watch the USA win the gold medal Olympic match that included two Laguna Beach sisters.

The scoreboards are equipped with computer templates for scoring track, football, soccer and water polo, Dixon said. Any sport can be programmed onto the new scoreboards. A concession stand and restroom renovations are scheduled for the high school stadium in 2018.

To combat player concussions, the artificial turf where football and soccer teams play was replaced and an impact-absorbing shock pad installed between the fake grass and base. A new drainage system was also installed for an area that is the low point of the campus that flooded even in a light rain.

“I think we did a really good job,” said Dixon. “I’m looking forward to it opening and when the rains come, I’ll be out there with my umbrella.”

At the other three campuses in the district, students will find other improvements completed before the opening bell. One project that may yet come in before students return is the still pending emergency gas line repair at Thurston Middle School. Pinhole leaks detected in April required that gas be shut off on campus, causing disruption in science labs and the school cafeteria. In the final three months of the last school year, electric water heaters were installed to provide hot water in the kitchen and science curriculum revised to avoid experiments that required heat, school administrators said earlier.

Southern California Gas is scheduled to install a new gas meter on Monday, Aug. 29, but subcontractors required to test the gas lines have yet to commit to a test date, Dixon said. If no leaks are found, the school will receive the go-ahead to restore gas, he said.

Thurston’s library is also fully renovated with the addition of a smart wall, a 10 by 24-foot monitor that has touch screen capability and can serve as a projector. Other additions include ergonomic chairs, standing desks, new computer monitors and book shelves that are movable to allow for the library to be reconfigured at any time, Dixon said.

At Top of the World Elementary, a new roof covers the office, library and kindergarten. Some rooms are subdivided with walls to create spaces for more individual projects and new carpet and vinyl flooring installed on the campus, said Dixon.

At El Morro Elementary, the concrete is poured, the poles set and new fabric will be stretched for a new shade cover on the school yard playground.

At the high school and Thurston gyms, large fans are being installed and air conditioning added to Dugger Gym next month, Dixon said.

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