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New and improved Joe Debely Stadium set to open Aug. 26
Debely update pic
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Construction at Joe Debely Stadium continues on and is on schedule to be finished before the first high school football game of the 2010-2011 season on Aug. 27.

Underground work is done and Roebblen Contracting, Inc. is now working on the lifted football field and side projects on both sides of the field located at Turlock High School.

There were some challenges with the underground work but it didn’t slow down construction, said Ed Felt, Turlock Unified School District assistant superintendent. A couple of surprises that were found included irregular designs underground. Old pipes were either removed or rerouted to better serve the new renovations to the stadium.

As the construction team builds the field back up they are anticipating the artificial turf to arrive soon for installation, Felt said. Then they will lay the asphalt base for the track, apply the stripping for the artificial turf for soccer and football games, apply the all-weather track surface and work on the ramps and bleachers to be compliant with the American Disabilities Act.

Construction is expected to be complete by Aug. 17, giving the district time to prepare for their grand opening ceremony on Aug. 26.

The day after the famous ribbon cutting, Pitman High School will take on Modesto High School on the new Joe Debely Stadium field. Turlock High will get their chance to try out the new field on Sept. 3 when they battle Oakdale High.

Renovations to the stadium have been smooth sailing but there is still a law suit in the works that aims to reduce the use of the stadium and make TUSD do a new Environmental Impact report.

The original lawsuit was filed by a group of Joe Debely neighbors called the Turlock Citizens Coalition who are concerned with increased usage of the stadium and the potential damage to the surrounding neighborhoods.

The first lawsuit was filed on Dec. 24, 2009 targeting individual trustees on the TUSD Board of Trustees, Turlock City Council members and other parties involved. Their original lawsuit stated that the renovations were an illegal use of Redevelopment Agency funding.

In March the Stanislaus County Superior Court ruled that the city acted properly in allocating $2.8 million of RDA funds to install a new synthetic turf track and all-weather field at the 60-year-old stadium.   

 An amended lawsuit was filed on March 19 that drops the individual city council members from the lawsuit. The new lawsuit argues that the renovated track and field will increase usage of the stadium, resulting in environmentally deleterious conditions to the surrounding neighborhoods, said Turlock Citizens Coalition Attorney Richard Harriman.   

A trial date has yet to be set by the court.

The TUSD and the Turlock Citizens Coalition have been working together on the usage agreement for the stadium, Felt said. A draft of the usage agreement is expected to be presented to the TUSD Board of Trustees at their next board meeting on Aug. 17.

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.