The Dorset School sports field ready for fall

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DORSET — Imagine a sports field cut into the side of a hill, with soaring pine trees on three sides that open to a picture postcard view of the Green Mountains. A playing surface awaits, freshly carpeted with Kentucky Bluegrass and slightly crowned down the center to allow for proper drainage.

For too long, students at The Dorset School have waited for the sports field behind their campus to be repaired. The wait is now over. After years of meaningful discussion between school athletic and maintenance personnel and voter approved financial support from the Town of Dorset and the Taconic & Green Regional School District, the hard work is done, with only summer rain and watering needed before the start of the school year.

Years of Vermont weather had created a field marked with deep holes and rough edges. In recent years the grass was burned out by the end of August, and a field of dirt by autumn. The resulting potholes and muddy conditions prevented the school from hosting formal middle school soccer games. The growth of encroaching trees and ongoing erosion, meanwhile, limited the full potential of the school playground.

To address this situation, the Taconic & Green Regional School District collaborated with parents and The Town of Dorset.

"Prior to the T&G merger, the Town of Dorset made an annual payment to The Dorset School for use of the facilities," said Dorset Town Manager Rob Giaotti. "After the T&G merger this policy was changed, but the Town kept the funding in place for one additional year and earmarked $76,000 for the field improvement project in the fiscal year 2019 budget. We are so pleased with the results."

The T&G School District, meanwhile, created plans, hired local vendors, supplied onsite support and added $62,350 that was highlighted in this year's approved T&G budget. With financial resources and plans in place, the work on the field commenced earlier this spring.

The renovation of the sports field came in stages. Trees were cut and stumps removed by Michael White Construction from Danby. A new drainage system was put in place and a well was drilled by Gould & Sons Well Drilling of Pawlet to enable efficient watering of the grass throughout the year. At the start of the summer, the new space was excavated and graded by Herrmann Construction of Manchester to provide the perfect pitch for play.

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The final major step included sodding the main field and seeding the perimeter.

"It was really cool that the bulldozer was equipped with GPS, which made leveling the field so much more efficient," said The Dorset School Principal Rosanna Moran. "The dirt removed was screened and reused for topsoil to extend the size of the field. An additional bonus is that an earlier drainage area is now a beautifully sloped lawn that the children can play on."

The project was overseen by Greg Harrington, director of operations for the Bennington Rutland Supervisory Union, which includes the Taconic & Green Regional School District.

"One benefit of the T&G merger was that we were able to use maintenance personnel from all our schools to pitch in on the final days of laying sod," Harrington said. "We saved some money and the staff enjoyed a day of work outside."

Harrington's prior work as the Athletic Director at the Green Mountain Hill School, was an additional benefit. "We selected Kentucky Bluegrass because it's the best surface for a natural turf sports field," says Harrington. "We need the most durable grass because we expect the field to get plenty of use."

Moran confirmed that the field will host plenty of action.

"In addition to middle school soccer games, the field will be used daily for physical education classes, recess and the after school program," says Moran. "I can't wait to see the reactions from the students when they come back to school."


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