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Neighbors review Liggett field plans


April 10, 2014
Grosse Pointe Woods — In anticipation of the first shovel going into the ground, University Liggett School officials met with the neighbors to discuss the upcoming renovation of the athletic fields.

Only a handful of neighbors attended the April 3 meeting, but those who did had lots of questions for architects, landscapers and school officials.

With construction of The Rivers project nearly complete, it came as no surprise some are suffering construction fatigue, and wanted reassurance that this project would not completely disrupt their summer.

"We expect to be a good neighbor," said Head of School Joseph Healey.

Construction on the $14 million project is expected to begin by May 1, with the first phase, the new football field, completed in time for the Aug. 11 start of fall sports.

The 24-acre site will be done in phases, starting with the construction of the artificial turf football stadium which will run north and south on the part of the field immediately adjacent to The Rivers development.

The natural turf fields, including baseball diamonds and middle school athletic fields, will be planted this fall to be playable for the spring 2015 season.

The next phase, a new athletic building which is to be built adjacent to the McCann Ice Arena, is set to begin in 2015, with an opening slated for 2016.

In response to a question regarding trees, landscape engineers for the project said they have conducted an inventory of the trees and will work to save the existing trees as well as adding new trees to provide both a visual and sound buffer. Those trees that cannot be saved will be harvested and the lumber used in the project.

Neighbors were reassured there will be no lights, other than those required for safety, on any of the fields and no night-time activities are planned. A public address system will be installed for the football field and baseball diamond, but speakers will be directed away from the houses.

A major improvement to the site will be a new drainage system.

As one of the project engineers explained, the ground under the current fields is clay, and standing water and poor drainage has been an on-going problem. The new fields, both the natural and artificial turfs, will have new sub-surfaces, including an 8-inch gravel sub base under the artificial turf fields.

A major concern for the neighbors is the dust created by the resurfacing, as well as the amount of truck traffic on Cook Road.

"We are as concerned about the traffic as well, especially as it involves the safety of our students," said Liggett's Jon Neville, "and we will do our best to mitigate it as much as possible."

A project manager explained subcontractors have been instructed to use water trucks and to water down the site as often as possible to keep dust to a minimum.

"Obviously we can't control the wind," he said, noting wind screening remains an option.

Healey promised residents they would be kept up to date on the project's progress, and assured the residents the school is as anxious to see the project completed as they are.

"It's as big a mess for you as it is for us," he said. "But when it's done, it will be a beautiful addition to our community."

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