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After Irene: Looking at the Reconstruction on the Playing Fields…
nolan bishop 13 staff writer
October 12, 2011

Tropical Storm Irene’s heavy rainfall caused several of the ten dams along the Deerfield River to overflow. The water level rose from five to 24 feet in less than one hour, leaving silt and river sand all over the lower level fields and tennis courts.

“This is my thirtieth year working here,” said Groundsperson Jeff Gonyer. “I’ve seen the river flood before, but never like this.”

Manager of Grounds & Infrastructure Construction Brett Gewanter explained, “Before we could even begin to think about the grass, we had to remove all the silt. After that, it was a long process of taking out the irrigation system and re-grading the field using our own equipment as well as the help of outside contractors. We then had to put back the irrigation before beginning the long process of laying sod.”

Mr. Gewanter and the Grounds Department have replaced the sod on the six fields closest to the gym. “If we finish the sodding process in the next few weeks, then the fields ought to be ready by Saturday, October 22. This is all weather dependent, though,” said Mr. Gewanter.

Mr. Gonyer is responsible for maintenance of the sprinkler system. It took him years to fine tune the hundreds of sprinklers on the lower level fields. Now he will have to start over. “It will definitely be a while before things get back to normal down here at Grounds,” said Mr. Gonyer.