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Change order for new Aberdeen High turf field takes job above $1 million

When it is completed this fall, Aberdeen High School will officially have a $1 million-plus new synthetic playing surface in its football stadium.

That's because the Harford County Board of Estimates on Thursday approved a $99,971.68 addition to the installation contract for the new artificial turf field, requested because the contractor found the soil more unsuitable as a sub-base than engineers had projected.

The original bid contract price, as approved by the board in June, was just shy of $1 million, at $990,425, so the addition will bump the total price to $1,090,396.68. The new total, however, still appears to fall within the project's $1.3 million budget.

"We seem to get burned on these soil issues," Jay Van Deusen, a citizen member of the board, said during Thursday's meeting, where the change order was approved 5-0.

"Sometimes there are things underground that you are just not aware of until you get into a construction situation," added Van Deusen, a builder.

Dixie Construction of Churchville, the contractor, has been working at the site for several weeks to prepare the sub-base, drainage and base for the installation of the FieldTurf Tarkett XM65 synthetic surface.

Last week, Dixie submitted a change order request "to stabilize the unsuitable soil base" by adding 6 percent cement into the stone that was originally to be used for stabilization.

According to the breakdown on the change order, additional materials will cost $51,000, labor $8,000, equipment $30,000 and markup and overhead about $10,700.

According to a county interdepartmental memo between the directors of procurement and director of parks and recreation, the latter whose agency is overseeing the project, provisions were made in the original contract for using stone "in unsuitable soil conditions."

"The exposure on the field is greater than identified in the testing done during the design phase," the memo states. "Therefore, a more suitable stabilization practice is needed to provide soil compaction needed for the field. The alternative of using soil cement saves cost on the undercutting, removal and replacement of suitable backfill for the entire field. Existing field is to be brought to subgrade and treated with soil cement to stabilize.

"It would create a situation where the overall drainage of the field would not work properly and frankly we would have longer-term issues with the field itself," Paul Magness, chief of capital planning for parks and recreation, told the board Wednesday.

Magness said following the meeting that the change order will not affect the completion date of the project.

When a reporter visited the site Wednesday, an on-site manager said they have mainly been slowed down by the recent rains but still hope to finish in mid-October as planned.

Magness said in June that the target date for opening the stadium was the Eagles' homecoming football game on Oct. 25. Until the stadium is ready, Aberdeen is expected to play its games at its opponents' stadiums but will be considered the "home" team in any contests that would have otherwise been scheduled at Aberdeen.

Aberdeen is the seventh Harford high school to get an artificial turf field. Future installations are planned at the three remaining nature grass fields at Fallston, Joppatowne and C. Milton Wright high schools. The county government is paying for the fields from its own budget. Maintenance responsibilities for the fields are split between the school system and parks and recreation.

"I think in the long run it's fiscally sound and cuts the maintenance costs tremendously," County Councilman Jim McMahan said of the synthetic turf fields. McMahan subbed for Council President Billy Boniface at Thursday's estimates board session.

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