Wednesday, December 4, 2013
The discovery of a light dangling from a rotted wood beam 60 feet above Westbrook's Olmstead Field has closed the field and forced the high school football team's homecoming game, a marching band competition and several soccer matches to be held elsewhere.
The playing field and the track around it have been closed since a maintenance worker discovered the loose fixture two weeks ago.
The facilities will not be reopened until all the field lights mounted on the six poles surrounding the field are removed. That work is supposed to start Wednesday and be finished by Monday, said Superintendent Marc Gousse.
An inspection Oct. 4 revealed that the wooden beams on all the 40-year-old light posts are in poor condition and the lights are in danger of falling off the poles, said City Engineer Eric Dudley.
School officials will have to come up with a plan for repairing or replacing the lights, but "that's not going to happen this fall," Gousse said. The school board approved paying about $11,000 to remove the lights. Replacing them could cost between $200,000 and $300,000, he said.
For the most part, the loss of the field has been an inconvenience, said Westbrook High School Athletic Director Marc Sawyer.
Soccer games were started earlier in the day and played on practice fields and, in one case, in Windham. The marching band competition last weekend was moved to Old Orchard Beach. And the homecoming game was played at Portland's Fitzpatrick Stadium, which Sawyer said "made it a great night."
Although the soccer teams don't have any more home games scheduled, the football team will host at least one game in the Class B playoffs, which begin next week.
The team can play without lights, but the game or games, which are traditionally held on Friday nights under the lights, would have to be played during the day on Saturday, said Sawyer.
Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at: 791-6364 or at:
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