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Vandenberg athletic field to have artificial turf installed

Construction members work on the athletic field at the base track, Dec. 10, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. A project designed to remove the natural turf on the athletic field at the base track and replace it with artificial turf recently began construction Nov. 30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Robert J. Volio/Released)

Construction members work on the athletic field at the base track, Dec. 10, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. A project designed to remove the natural turf on the athletic field at the base track and replace it with artificial turf recently began construction Nov. 30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Robert J. Volio/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A project designed to remove the natural turf on the athletic field at the base track and replace it with artificial turf recently began construction Nov. 30.

Construction of the field requires a multitude of tasks be performed to ensure a pristine final product, a product currently on pace to be completed by summer 2016.

"The project was awarded to remove the existing natural turf within the oval running track and replace it with artificial turf," said Mark Barnick, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron Saber chief. "Excavation of the soil to approximately one foot below the current running track started on November 30. Grading and installation of a subgrade drainage system will be followed by turf bedding, then installation of the artificial turf layer. The project is slated for completion in early July 2016."

The plan to install artificial turf has been a long time coming for both the 30th CES and the 30th Force Support Squadron.

"The Force Support Squadron attempted the project in 2006, but funding was not available to follow through," said Barnick. "Early in 2015, 30th Space Wing leadership expressed interest in artificial turf and this time, funds became available through the wing for the project. The contract to begin the project was awarded in September."

Many are hopeful the completion of the new field will also bring a reduction in maintenance cost, as well as injuries to Vandenberg's most important resource - its Airmen.

"With us playing sports year-round on that natural surface, the field took a toll between the play out there, as well as the squirrels and rodents digging around," said Pamela Coffee, 30th Force Support Squadron Fitness Center director. "Members of Team V have been clamoring for this for a long time. With artificial turf, the cost of maintaining it will be significantly cheaper in the long run. I've spoken with some of my counterparts at other bases and they've been very pleased with the addition of turf fields. They're also very happy about the decrease in injuries and maintenance cost, and I'm hoping we will enjoy more of the same."

Coincidentally, another track at the 381st Training Group was recently completed, and although not intentional, will serve as the alternate PT testing site during the ongoing construction.

"We have secured the track at the 381st Training Group for official PT testing while the construction continues at the field," said Coffee. "Ironically, the track at the 381st was recently completed with no intention of serving as an alternate PT testing site. Had that not been completed, the alternate site for testing would've been at 13th St. and Cross Rd., which is more of a down-and-back road run as opposed to a circular track."

Once finished, the new and improved base field will provide a spark to morale, sports programs and unit PT for all members of Team V.

"The installation of artificial turf will result in a more professional field, both in quality and appearance, providing our Airmen with playing and physical fitness field conditions that have become the norm for athletic programs of excellence," said Barnick.