DeMatha preparing for fields of its own
Hyattsville private school partnering with M-NCPPC on Heurich Park project
DeMatha High School Athletic Director Ed King said he has been dreaming for years about having athletic fields the school could call its own.
Tucked at the end of Madison Street just West of Route 1 in Hyattsville, the school has no outdoor athletic facilities on its campus. Instead, its highly successful teams have practiced and played at various facilities, including Riverdale Park, the Sports and Learning Complex in Landover and Washington Trinity University in the District.
But now, King's dream is becoming a reality: Construction will start in March on three fields at Heurich Community Park in West Hyattsville, which several DeMatha teams will begin using in November. The park is less than 3 miles from the school. DeMatha will partner with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission on the cost of the new fields.
"We first started talking about this in 2003, so it has been a long time," King said. "We looked at some different areas around the school and we figured this would be the best location."
Craig Kellstrom, the head of public affairs and marketing for the M-NCPPC, said bidding for the project won't be finished until the end of January, when the organization and the school will have an idea how much the project will cost. DeMatha already has given the M-NCPPC $500,000 it received from an anonymous donor who gave specific instructions that the money be used for athletic fields.
Two of the Heurich Park fields will be grass practice fields, while the third will be a synthetic turf field that will be used for games. All of the fields will have bleachers, concession stands and lights, so the fields can be used at night.
The fields will be the new home for DeMatha's lacrosse, soccer, junior varsity football and freshmen football teams. The lacrosse and soccer teams will play home games there, while the football teams will use the facilities for practice. The varsity football team will also practice on the fields, but will continue playing home games at the Sports and Learning Complex. King said there wouldn't be enough parking at Heurich Park for varsity football games.
"Everyone is in favor of this because a lot of the fields we use are being overused," King said. "The lacrosse team has a difficult time playing at Riverdale Park in the spring because there is no grass left. It's basically just dust, and that can't be healthy. It's definitely not a fun thing to do because once that dust gets cranked up, I am not sure how they can see the ball."
Steven Carter, chief of the sports health and wellness division of M-NCPPC, said DeMatha will have scheduling priority for the three fields, but permits will be given to other organizations that want to use them. M-NCPPC will oversee the permit process.
Carter added that other synthetic turf fields are in the works, including one at Walker Mill Regional Park in Forestville that should be ready by the fall. He also said there are plans to convert the field at the Sports and Learning Complex from grass to synthetic turf in the next two years.
"I think this is a great opportunity for the county," Carter said. "This gives us the opportunity to host different camps and get the kids acclimated to different things."
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