Local city and school officials gathered Friday morning at Francis C. Hammond Middle School to dedicate a new synthetic turf field and track that have been long in the making.
Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Morton Sherman compared the new field to the school’s previous grassy field. “Last year, had we stood on this field after a rain, what would we have seen out there?” he asked.
“Mud!” the students cried.
“A pigsty,” Sherman said. “We would have seen lots of water, and we would not have been able to use this field for a couple of months afterwards, until it dried out.”
Sherman honored Alexandria resident Gary Carr, who has children in the school system and for years has pressed the school board for for improved sports facilities, for his persistence. “We should put up a plaque — ‘If you build it, they will run.’ He said that at the end of every meeting of every presentation,” Sherman said. “And so, Mr. Carr, we have built it, and we will all run.”
Mayor Bill Euille spoke, stressing that he has pressed for greater physical fitness among all Alexandria’s youth. “The more athletic fields and venues and places like these that we continue to build and construct throughout the city sends a very important message in meeting those goals and objectives,” he said.
The new field at the school, located on Seminary Road, was originally planned to be completed by September but was delayed due to an unforeseen redesign of the project’s stormwater management system. According to the school district, the new field and track cost $1.8 million, although some community members have questioned that figure due to complications in relocating underground utilities.
The new field measures 360 by 185 feet, which is consistent with field dimensions established by the National Federation of State High School Associations and US Lacrosse. The field is striped for soccer and lacrosse.
The old running track at Francis Hammond had an irregular shape and was shorter than the new asphalt running track, which is a quarter of a mile long.
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