By John Anderson

On March 7th, School Superintendent Maryellen Brunelle formally acknowledged the donation of a field irrigation system from United Soccer of Auburn (USAuburn). The system will be installed at 10 Swanson Road as part of the improvements to the middle school as it is transitioned into a grade 3-5 facility.

USAuburn originally installed the system in 2009 at Randall and Granger fields on West St, but both fields will be lost to the new middle school. Due to the contract terms, used equipment can’t be incorporated into the school project.

The plan is to have the DPW remove all the sprinkler heads and control mechanisms from the field once the snow has melted. The way this winter has been, that might be June. The official groundbreaking is scheduled for April 17th at 10:00AM.

Initial installation and subsequent field improvements in 2009 cost the league about $9,000. USAuburn purchased loom and grass seed, and the Parks Dept. provided the labor for the town managed property. League President Peter Chestna said “We’ve been happy to work closely with Parks. They’ve done a great job.”

A controller had to be replaced after a lighting strike, and then there was the water. Thousands upon thousands have been spent on water, and the fields looked decent until the possible middle school relocation came up. It was determined that no future funds would be spent at that point.

Hopefully some of the chronic issues at 10 Swanson Rd. can be addressed in the next few years since more demands will be made on the grass. Until the “Thom McCann” fields on Millbury St. were lost to development, USAuburn was able to rotate fields and give the grass a chance to recover.

That is not possible anymore, and more time is spent on artificial turf at Auburn High and the Pappas Recreation Complex.

With new sports like lacrosse gaining popularity, grass is becoming even more in demand. Some pressure may let up when the new middle school opens with two fields, but that is a year and a half off. Auburn Little League is also losing a field at Randall, but they did get two new fields at Pappas.