Construction project a $4.5 million investment into quality of life for Marines

11 Jan 2012 | Cpl. Miranda Blackburn

Along with a slew of other construction projects taking place aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, renovations to the Harry Agganis Field, intramural soccer and football fields and the Liversedge Field have already begun.

Awarded in September 2011, the $4.5-million project, consisting of converting the traditional grass that currently covers the athletic fields to a product called Mondo turf and repairing the surface of the track, is scheduled to be completed by late May, weather permitting. All three phases of the project will be conducted simultaneously.

“Initially, the project was slated to be completed by late September, but at the rate we’re going we should have it finished and ready for use by the end of May,” said Tim Cornelius, construction manager with the Officer in Charge of Construction, Marine Corps Installations East.

By the time of completion, MCB Camp Lejeune will be fully equipped with two National Collegiate Athletic Association regulation football fields, two regulation soccer fields, two Amateur Softball Association regulation softball fields and one Olympic-grade track.

The goal of the artificial turf is to create a new and completely innovative playing surface which reproduces all the characteristics of a well-maintained, natural grass field.

The artificial turf system, in good weather conditions, has an infill material that offers maximum safety, performance and heat reduction. It also reduces the problems inherent to natural turf fields, to include high maintenance costs, risk of injuries due to poor field conditions and safety and threats to health.

“The idea behind it is that it will provide a nice, even playing surface that can be used 24 hours a day,” said Chris Alger, Sports Branch head, Semper Fit Division. “We’ll be able to do a lot of things now as far as sports programming, individual (physical training) purposes, youth sports and for hosting All-Marine and All-Armed Forces competitions.”

Over the years as MCB Camp Lejeune has grown, many of the new barracks and buildings have been built on top of existing green spaces, most of which used to be athletic fields. With that being said, playing surfaces have been narrowed down to the three fields currently being reconstructed.

“Grass needs time to recuperate, time for reseeding, fertilizing and it needs time to grow,” Alger said. “When you have people (conducting combat fitness tests) in the morning, playing sports in the morning and after work, and youth sports using it on a regular basis, it wears out the grass completely. We just don’t have time to re-grow it.”

The new artificial turf will allow all of those activities to take place simultaneously at any time.

“A Marine can come in and play in the morning, afternoon or evening, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and it won’t wear it out for the next 10 years,” Alger added. “It’s a $4.5 million investment into the quality of life for the Marines.”

Not only will the new playing surfaces benefit the lives of Marines and base personnel using the fields, it will put a little extra dough back into Uncle Sam’s pocket.

The budget may seem a little steep, but eventually this project will save the base money overall, said Alger.

“We won’t have to pay for seed, water, chemicals or fertilization,” Alger said. “There’s not really any manpower that gets invested into it either. Typically, an artificial field can pay for itself between six to eight years and can last as long as 15. So, essentially, after six to eight years, the field is putting money back into the government’s pocket.”

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