Ground breaking: Lyman Gilmore begins construction on astro turf sports field |

Ground breaking: Lyman Gilmore begins construction on astro turf sports field

Sam Corey
Staff Writer

If you’d been on the natural sports field at Lyman Gilmore Middle School, you may have noticed holes.

They were likely not dug by humans, but gophers.

Grass Valley School District Superintendent Eric Fredrickson said teachers have taken photos of the critters poking their heads from the ground, peeking out into the world during school hours.

“Battling gophers” was a danger on campus, said Fredrickson. “It was terrible. Even after you cover them up again” the soil was still broken.

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But gophers will likely no longer plague the school’s field, as a construction company subcontracting with the City of Grass Valley broke ground July 8 to create a year-round turf field. The project, which is a month or two behind schedule, should conclude by September.

The approved $1.5 million purchase of the synthetic sports field passed in March as a joint agreement with the Grass Valley City Council and Grass Valley School District. The city’s responsibilities include overseeing the scheduling, operations and maintenance of the park. The school district must incorporate the new field into the campus’ technological infrastructure.

“We get to operate the field during the summer and on weekends,” said Grass Valley City Manager Tim Kiser.

The synthetic field — constructed of cork and sand rather than rubber — will significantly reduce maintenance costs, said Kiser, and will remain in-use even if the county endures a drought.

“That opens up a lot more opportunities for us than we’ve had before,” he said.

Fredrickson agreed.

“One of the key elements is the cost of watering that field,” he said, which will be reduced as a sprinkler system is no longer needed.

Instead, the field will need to be raked occasionally depending on usage, said the city manager. Additionally, while corks may need to be added, chemicals won’t, and mowing will be irrelevant.

Kiser acknowledged the previous field began to atrophy from lack of use, which cyclically influenced people not to play on the field, and eventually led to an infiltration of gophers.

Both Kiser and Fredrickson appreciate the community passing Measure E, which provided additional money for the field’s renovation.

“I’m just real excited that the city has wanted to do a joint use,” said Fredrickson, “and that they’re using the Measure E funds to benefit their needs and definitely benefit the school district.”

While Fredrickson doesn’t recall students twisting their ankles on holes created by gophers, he is happy to have likely ridden the district of the animal infestation.

Kiser agreed.

“That’s typical with fields in our area,” he said. “If you don’t keep maintenance up on them, then the gophers, they can cause problems.”

Contact Sam Corey at 530-477-4219 or at

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