Robert E. Lee catcher Eric Ortiz, left, and the Ganders will play its season again on a grass and dirt field, as seen here during their game against Alief Taylor on March 3, as the artificial turf expected for the campaign was not installed in time due to residual problems caused by a sinkhole located by the field a year ago.

Ganders without turf diamond until 2021

After a project with ABM for energy conservation passed last year set Goose Creek CISD up to plan for new artificial turf fields for softball and baseball teams at Robert E. Lee, Sterling and Goose Creek Memorial high schools by this spring, one was left wanting.

REL baseball opened up the current campaign without its turf and has to wait until next year to finally see that dream come to fruition.

That’s because a sinkhole that started and grew in the area following the collapse of an aging drainage pipe led to residual impacts and delayed the setting of the turf. 

As the Ganders await their new turf, the field is currently safe to play on, according to Matt Bolinger, executive director of strategic planning and innovation for GCCISD.

“The sinkhole was a safe distance away from the baseball field and the sinkhole has since been repaired,” Bolinger said. “The decision was made to delay the turf installation so that the baseball season would not be disrupted.. Beyond this, the area would need to be prepared for turf installment in a similar manner to the other fields that have been upgraded with turf. The artificial turf will help conserve water, reduce maintenance and turf products that are typically used to maintain sports fields.”

Plans are now in place to reroute the storm drainage system in the area to improve the process for the securing the field for the Ganders.

 “There is continued discussion on the logistics of this project, including the cost-sharing measures which have not yet been finalized,” Bolinger said. “Regarding safety, either Harris County or the City of Baytown has a process in place to help ensure the integrity of the work through permitting and inspections.”

GCCISD Athletic Director Dr. Bernard Mulvaney said a Feb. 26 meeting led to the decision to start building the new turf field on June 15 once the current season ends.

“The Harris County Flood Control District is supposed to have the pipe rerouted 18-24 months from now,” Mulvaney said. “Everyone involved in the project understands the risks and we are working with them to make sure the risks are mitigated and that Lee baseball has a baseball field by the beginning of the next school year. Even if we started it today, they wouldn’t have it for this season.”

The rerouted pipe will go down Carnegie Road to Lee Drive over to Bicentennial Drive into Goose Creek according to Mulvaney.

“They can’t cap off what’s under the baseball field until the pipe is rerouted,” Mulvaney said. “They will do the reroute at the same time they are doing the field.”

Mulvaney said it will be a combination of concrete, clay and mud to fill in the pipes under the field so they wouldn’t collapse and cause a sinkhole in the future.

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