Applejack Field improvements on track

MANCHESTER -The improvements to Applejack Field have been made and according to town officials the field should be ready for use by mid-July.

"We want to make sure the field has enough time to rest and regenerate and make sure that everything we've done there has a chance to strengthen," said Manchester Town Manager John O'Keefe.

The repairs to the field - which were the first major repairs that have been made since the field was created in 2006 - were made around Thanksgiving and included fixing the center of the field, the area around the goal posts and the sidelines and reseeding the entire field, O'Keefe said. Applejack Field sustained a fair amount of damage this fall due to weather conditions and usage. One game in particular that took a huge toll on the field was an Oct. 19 football game between Burr and Burton Academy and North Country that was played in the pouring rain.

Given the current timetable, Burr and Burton Academy - who paid half of the $8,000 in repair costs - has had to reshuffle their spring sports schedule a bit.

"The conflict was trying to move lacrosse games one way or the other so they don't have an impact on softball," said Kathi Bierwirth, Burr and Burton's athletic director.

Still, the softball program is expected to be impacted the most as a result of Applejack Field not being ready. There is a good possibility that they will lose the use of their practice field as lacrosse games will be played there.

Despite that, softball coach Dan DeForest said he will take the necessary measures to prepare his players.

"You try to prepare your team through practice to get the kind of balls they're going to see in games and you can't always get that in a grass area," said DeForest. "We'll do what we have to do. We're going to make the best arrangements we can. We'll concentrate heavily on infield [work] when we have the chance to practice on our field. You've got to take the resources that you have."

Bierwirth said discussions were taking place with Manchester Youth Baseball to possibly convert one of the older little league fields into a softball field or at the very least making one of the fields available as a practice facility for the team.

Not being able to use Applejack Field will also have an impact on Burr and Burton's main field, Beirwirth said.

"The amount of use that our front field is going to get is going to force us to look long and hard at what our maintenance plan is going to be when school lets out," Bierwirth said. "It gets used a lot in the fall and there's not a lot of down time to give it the care that it needs."

Bierwirth said that the school will probably shut the field down during the summer to prepare it for the fall sports season.

While BBA will not be able to play games on the field this spring, the timetable is not expected to affect the professional soccer club the Vermont Voltage whose first game at Applejack is scheduled for July 17.

"It won't affect the Voltage," said O'Keefe. "The field should be better than ever once we get it back to normal, but it's going to take a little bit of time." The Voltage reached an agreement with the Town of Manchester earlier this year to play up to five games a season at Applejack Field over the next three years.


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