HIGHTSTOWN: Engineer hired to rehab Kreps athletic fields

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Andrea Baverov addresses the Board of Education meeting Nov. 16 while her daughter Ally

By Amy Batista, Special Writer
HIGHTSTOWN – The Board of Education appointed a civil site engineer to rehabilitate the Kreps Athletic field during its meeting last week.
“I want to take a moment and just thank you for listening and taking action for our request at the last board meeting,” said Andrea Baverov, of East Windsor, as she stood with her daughter Ally Baverov, an eight grader, at the podium who was holding a sign filled with photos of herself playing field hockey, injured, and going through physical therapy.
She said the both look forward to hearing about the plans for the Kreps fields.
“It came to our attention as a lot of people were complimenting my daughter and praising myself for coming and bringing this to everybody’s attention, it did come to our attention that some of the high school fields (need to be addressed.)”
Ally Baverov said the hopes to be rehabilitated from her dislocated knee injury and hopes to play on the field hockey fields next fall.
“It could use a little TLC,” said Andrea Baverov. “The practice football field looks atrocious. It would be nice to see some of the other fields addressed and made safe for all the children. As you said, all the members of the community come and use the facilities, the gym classes go outside, we really should make it safe for everyone.”
Edwards Engineering Group, Inc., of Sommerville, was hired as the civil site engineer for Kreps Athletic Field Rehabilitation on Nov. 16. The proposal summary is estimated to cost $27,920.
“On May 15, 2015, during gym class, the kids were playing kick ball,” said Ms. Baverov in a follow-up email on Nov. 20. “Ally was trying to get someone out and she tripped on the very uneven surface. She fell and needed to be rushed to the hospital via ambulance,”
She said her daughter was out of school for a while and was in an immobilization brace for nearly a month. Ally was in physical therapy all summer and through early September.
“She got cleared just days before the field hockey tryouts,” she said. “She came back and made the varsity team. On Oct. 14, during a field hockey practice drill, she again tripped on the uneven terrain and dislocated the other kneecap,” she said. “As of today, she is on the injured list.”
She said that Ally goes to PT three times a week and has been following up with the orthopedist regularly.
Her mother said the injuries have had a major impact on Ally.
“After the second injury, we were joking about going to the board to complain but were not really serious,” she said. “We were just venting and blowing off stem.”
Then at lunchtime on the day of the board of education meeting, Ally asked her mother if we were going to go that night.
“I asked if she would go with me and she said yes,” she said. “Ally started to cry and said I do not want anyone to have to deal with what I had to deal with.”
Ms. Baverov said there have been other injuries on those fields.
“Knowing that any decision to improve the fields would not be a decision at the school level but rather at the school board level,” she said. “We cut to the chase and went right to the decision makers.”
She said that the interim superintendent that just left, Thomas Gialanella, was amazing and extremely compassionate to Ally and her mother.
“He asked Ally how she was feeling and he offered to personally go look at the fields and he wanted my name and number to follow up with me,” she said. “Two days later, he called me and told me that the school board hopes to present something at the next board meeting.”
Board Vice President Paul Connolly said that Nick Puleio, interim business administrator and board secretary, had put together a report.
“He had walked the fields at Kreps along with our personnel,” he said. “This study that we are doing is a two part study.”
He said one is for basic repairs.
According to a letter dated Nov. 3 from Edwards Engineering Group, Inc. to Mr. Puleio, it stated that company officials had met with the school district’s facilities director, Paul Hewins, and his staff at the Melvin Kreps School to review the current site conditions throughout the athletic fields behind the school. Mr. Hewins explained that the irregular grading, soil erosion, and lack of established lawn in many areas of the outdoor space are creating safety concerns for the school district.
“Any repairs that have to be done will be addressed,” he said.
The school district would like a phased approach to the rehabilitation of the outdoor play space, based upon Mr. Hewin’s needs assessment.
The central portion of the athletic field is the most distressed and the refurbishment of that area is a priority. Therefore the central area shall be considered Phase 1. Also included in Phase 1 will be the design and installation of curbing and drainage system along the rear school bus drop off lane. The curbing and drainage improvements will provide for better control of surface rain water runoff and will convey water more efficiently into the nearby field drainage system. During winter months, they use of de-icing salts causes a concentration of salt to form along the edge of the driveway, which destroys the adjacent lawn, results and bare soil, and fosters an erosive soil condition. The installation of curbing along the driveway will have a positive effect by preventing the de-icing salts from migrating into the fields and killing lawn areas, according to the letter.
Mr. Connolly said that the second the phase would be long phase as far as future upgrades if required at Kreps.
The open play fields located to the left and right will be considered Phase 2 of the overall rehabilitation project. These areas primarily require re-grading to eliminate undulations and to improve vegetative cover. Basic results of the field study and analysis may also yield recommendations of the addition of stormwater drainage improvements, according to the letter.