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Sinkhole repaired at North Hagerstown stadium

April 24, 2007|By TAMELA BAKER

HAGERSTOWN

How much difference can 6 inches of earth make?

Plenty, if it's on a football field where teens in cleats are trying to keep their footing.

Early last week, a sinkhole was discovered near the 5-yard line on the left side of the field at the new Mike Callas Stadium at North Hagerstown High School. The depression was about 6 inches deep, according to Rob Rollins, acting director of facilities planning and development for Washington County Public Schools.

He said the contractor, Specialty Surfaces of Wayne, Pa., arrived Friday to fill the sinkhole.

"Sinkholes happen," he said, but repairing the sinkhole on the field was "a little different with the artificial turf."

The new field is covered with "Sprinturf," a synthetic turf manufactured to be softer than real grass. To repair the sinkhole, "you have to pull back the fabric, fill in with dirt, and then pull it back," Rollins said.

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He noted that there is an eight-year warranty on the field, which covered the cost of repairs.

Rollins said the new construction and the amount of grading done on the site could result in a sinkhole.

But once repaired, could the ground sink again at the $4 million facility? Can a sinkhole really be "fixed?"

"That depends," said Karen Prestegaard, an associate professor of geology at the University of Maryland. "It's very hard to predict."

Other activity in the area that affects the water table is one factor, she said. How well the fill is compacted is another.

Though school board members debated whether to use real or synthetic grass on the field, the decision to use synthetic turf might pay off in the long run. Water is less likely to filter through it, causing future problems, Prestegaard said.

Because of the synthetic turf, the chances the repair will keep are "probably better than normal," she said.

The stadium opened in November.

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