Neighbors Learn of Plans to Replace Clemente Field Turf and Track

The neighborhood was apprised of Emmanuel College’s plans to replace the artificial turf and track at Roberto Clemente Field in the Back Bay Fens during a public meeting Monday at the school’s administrative building.

John M. Perry, senior project manager for Gale Associates, a Bedford, N.H.-based engineering consulting firm, said that athletic facilities like Clemente Field are under warrantee for eight years and typically have a lifespan of between seven and 11 years.

“This one is going on 10 years,” Perry said. “It has served the school, the community and the city really well.”

Perry said existing conditions of the playing surface would be studied using the Gmax test, which examines “the maximum acceleration experienced during an impact to the normal rate of acceleration due to gravity.”

The turf now consists of sand and crumb rubber set atop a “shock pad,” and Perry said the design team is now considering reusing the infill elements or instead opting for Envirofill  (coated sand) or Brockfill (engineered wood).

Brendan McWilliams, Emmanuel’s director of athletics and recreation, said besides serving as the home field for the college’s men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer and training for men’s and women’s track and field, Clemente Field accommodates Boston Latin football in the fall, high school softball in the spring, ROTC training and myriad other public recreational activities.

Paul McCaffrey of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, which has partnered with Emmanuel on Clemente Field for the past 10 years, called the facility a $1.5 million gift to the city from the college, which is also responsible for replacing the turf as part of the agreement.

“The field has lasted so long because of Emmanuel’s regular maintenance of it,” McCaffrey said.

The project is expected to get underway this summer after the applicant secures permits from the Boston Conservation and Landmarks commissions, officials said.

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