Witter Field construction delayed — again

Julie Reichle

View of Witter field progress as of October 13, 2023

The project to renovate Witter Field has been delayed and now will impact winter and spring sports teams at Piedmont High School.

The original timetable had the project wrapping up in November or December. However, various factors have caused delays. Highlanders athletic director Bradley Smet has told the track and field and lacrosse programs to plan on not having a home field or practice facility throughout the spring season.

“Both lacrosse and track and field programs have been informed,” Smet said. “We’re working on finding them locations to practice.”

He added he had no reason to believe the project would extend into the next school year.

Piedmont Unified School District director of facilities and construction manager Pete Palmer said the delays are not due to one thing. For example, East Bay MUD had to do work on a 54-inch aqueduct that runs under the field. However, there are also time constraints as to when construction vehicles are allowed on site.

“It’s just a whole host of reasons why,” he said. “It’s construction and we’re doing the best we can. It’s really unanticipated things that occurred and weren’t on the plans.”

Palmer added, “I said this at the start of this project, ‘We need to have a backup plan. And a backup plan to the backup plan.’”

A new drainage system is being installed as well as a new synthetic field for all sports and a new track. A state facilities grant is helping to pay for the project.

Witter Field is used by the high school’s football, soccer, lacrosse and track and field programs as well as middle school sports and the community. The Piedmont boys football team knew the field would be under construction during the fall. The soccer teams also were expected to be impacted for at least part of their seasons during the winter.

“It makes it very difficult for our athletes, their families with the extra time to get from point A to point B,” Smet said.

Construction has also started on replacing the Piedmont pool. So, a large number of high school sports programs are off campus due to construction.

“When you look at this year, it has been a lot,” Smet said. “We’re doing the best we can to try to find locations for the programs and their needs.”

The most recent update posted on the PUSD website states field event facilities (such as for the long jump and shot put) are being poured and that the installation of the synthetic turf started on November 27. The track resurfacing is scheduled to start in January.

Officially, the PUSD site says the targeted completion date is still February 5. But Smet was told to warn all spring coaches to be prepared to not have Witter available at all.

“I think we’re solving that,” Palmer said of finding teams temporary facilities. “For sure, lacrosse and track need to plan all the way through their seasons.”

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