A sinkhole has closed the Verona High School football field and may postpone the first home game scheduled for Sept. 22, district officials said
Officials are unsure if the field will be usable for any events this year.
In the meantime, the football team has been practicing on the lower field, according to board member Glenn Elliott.
Games would be possible (to be played on the lower field) if necessary, Elliott said in an email to Patch Thursday, “but we’re also looking at Centennial Field, if we can find times that wouldn’t be too disruptive to the other town sports that are already scheduled there.”
“To the far side of the field on the visitors side we have always had issues with sinkholes and drainage,” Verona Board of Education John Quattrocchi explained at the meeting.
“What was uncovered was a manmade shaft,” he continued, “three feet in diameter, that goes down 15 feet into an underground structure. We don't know what's down there or its purpose.”
Although the sinkhole has been filled in, the question remains whether other sinkholes or underground debris remain.
Underground debris such as tree stumps have opened sinkholes on the field in the past, but this is the first time any former building debris as been uncovered.
“Half of the football field that is closest to the school is natural ground,” said Quattrocchi.
“When you get to the middle of the field and beyond,” he said, “that was all filled sometime in the 70's. The sinkhole problems and drainage problems that we have had in the past are almost always related to that far side of the field.”
According to Quattrocchi, Verona High School, including the football field, was once the site of a wayward school for boys between 1873 and 1900.
In January of 1900 the school, which was home to about 400 boys, burned down in a tragic fire. No one perished in the fire, he said.
The board has been working closely with engineering firms, who have recommended contacting the county for historical records of the property.
“We will then use a non-invasive ground penetrating radar to scan the field and try to match that up with any records that we can find to try and identify any other anomalies that remain under the field,” Elliott said.
“This will take a little bit of time and will impact some of the scheduling for athletics,” he said.
“It will impact the first home football game of the season,” said Elliott. “It's hard to imagine a scenario where it's not impacted.”