WESTMINSTER -- Hadley Field at Bellows Falls Union High School has been temporarily closed to all use, according to a statement from School Superintendent Chris Kibbe.
Kibbe, of the Windham Northeast Supervisory Union, said the shutdown was made necessary when it was learned that Techline, Inc. -- the company that set up the stadium lights at the field -- could not assure the safety of the installation it made in the spring of 2012.
Soil samples will need to be taken from the athletic field to ensure the installation methods used were appropriate for the soil type and conditions at the field. This process may take two to three weeks. The field will be re-opened If the installation is determined to be appropriate and safe.
If additional work is needed to be done on the footings of the poles to strengthen the installation, the closure is likely to be for the entire fall sports season.
Mark Reynolds, a salesman for Techline, did not return a phone call seeking comment. A phone call to Kibbe’s office was also not returned.
School officials are working to reorganize practice and game schedules. BFUHS will make use of all its other athletic fields. Officials are also working with the local Pee Wee Football organization, which uses the field in the fall, to find an alternative setting.
Hadley Field consists of a football field (with a high school track around its perimeter), tennis courts and a baseball field. Ian Fraunfelder, who is entering his fifth year at the athletic director at BFUHS, said he heard about the situation Wednesday morning and by the afternoon was still in the beginning stages of coming up with solutions.
He said only the BFUHS football team uses the field for games during the fall, but the boys and girls soccer teams and girls field hockey team of Bellows Falls Middle School typically practice there when their game field is taken due to a match.
"I haven’t had a chance talk with the middle school yet," he said, adding that he is meeting today with Principal Heidi Lucas-Moccia, Assistant Principal Dale Chenette and the school’s new athletic director. "(This is) all new information this morning so it’s been a pretty hectic day."
He said he is confident the situation will be resolved as soon as possible.
The BFUHS football team isn’t scheduled for a game until Saturday, Sept. 7, when it is slated to host Milton at 7 p.m.
The possible problem with the installation of the poles that lights are attached to arose as the district compiled documentation required for the reapplication of the zoning permit of the lights to the Westminster Zoning Board of Adjustment. If additional work on the footings is required, the permit will need to be amended to include that work.
This is just one more headache the lights have caused. They were made possible by the financial holdings of the late Alvin Southwick, but Techline did not make sure all necessary permits were in order before the project began and some people have complained about the glare the lights produce.
Southwick was a longtime Westminster resident and a lover of sports. He died in August 2011.