Fulton’s varsity football team will play the entire 2009 season on the road.
The original plan — to play its games at home during the second half of the season, once the new turf field is installed — died officially a few days ago, when more asbestos was found in drainage pipes beneath the field last Friday.
The football squad will play its home games in Central Square instead. (See the full schedule, below.)
It’s the second time there’s been a surprise discovery of asbestos, which has to be removed using complex and very expensive safety procedures because breathing in asbestos has been linked to lung diseases and cancer. A few weeks back, asbestos was discovered in the jumping pits used by the track teams.
“It’s a setback,” said Jerry Seguin, the school district’s point man on the two-year, $23 million district-wide reconstruction project approved by voters in 2007.
Work is also underway at the high school and Lanigan Elementary. Work in those buildings will continue after the opening of school next month but the work is not expected to delay the opening of school or affect operations in the buildings.
The football team is not the only one to be affected by construction. The girls tennis teams will have to practice and play at Van Buren Park on the far side of the city because the tennis courts were torn up to be rebuilt and asbestos was found there, as well.
The piping under the football field dates to the 1970s, said Superintendent of Schools Bill Lynch. Though the potential dangers of asbestos have been known since the early 1900s, asbestos was not regulated until the late 1970s. Asbestos-wrapped piping was common in buildings before then because of asbestos’ insulating and fire-resistant properties and its low cost.
Now, asbestos can only be removed under very strict rules, which include having workers wear suits with breathing gear.
The construction plans accounted for some of the asbestos. For example, the floor tiles in the auditorium of the Education Center were known to be made of asbestos and the cost of removing them was part of the initial plan. But the tennis court and football field asbestos discoveries were not in the plan.
Seguin said the district and its construction managers were carefully considering what to do about the football field piping. One option, unlikely to be used, would be to leave the piping in place as it poses no danger when it’s covered with dirt and turf. But Lynch said that other districts that have done that found that if the piping collapses and needs to be removed, the expense and inconvenience can be much greater.
For that reason, removal is likely.
Board of Education member Robbin Griffin attended a meeting of district officials and the construction team. She said she came away “impressed” because “they are aware that safety is a priority.”
What does this asbestos discovery mean for the project, board member Brian Hotaling asked?
“It’s gonna be a lot of money (to remove it), is what it means,” said Griffin.
The high, unplanned cost of removal will have to be factored into the project’s budget, with money likely to be taken from some other area of the project.
The full football team schedule:
- 8/29/09 – 10:00 a.m. – Oswego (Scrimmage) at Oswego Middle School
- 9/5/09 – 12:00 Noon – Nottingham at Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome
- 9/11/09 – 7:00 p.m. – Mexico at Mexico High School
- 9/18/09 – 6:30 p.m. – East Syracuse-Minoa at ES-M High School
- 9/25/09 – 6:30 p.m. – Cortland at Central Square
- 10/2/09 – 4:00 p.m. – Fowler at Fowler High School
- 10/10/09 – 3:00 p.m. – New Hartford at Central Square
- 10/15/09 – 6:30 p.m. – Jamesville-Dewitt at Central Square
(Note that the J-D game was changed today from 10/17 to 10/15, a Thursday night game.)