# Update: Trevor Barker Oval

Since we previously visited the Trevor Barker Beach Oval in Sandringham, Victoria late last year, the construction project has been completed.

After a brief transition phase Citywide Open Space Surfaces are now the principal turf maintenance team behind the historic ground.

ETP Turf has continued to have a minor role in advising and assisting with the transition phase from construction to full time maintenance by Citywide.

The first VFL football training session back on the new surface was at the start of April and the first VFL game was played on Sunday 4th of May.

The game reportedly went very smoothly with a “come from behind” win for the home side, the Sandringham Zebras. 

“They were about 80 people in attendance at the President’s Lunch before the game, with all sorts of dignitaries from the mayor to the local member and other invited guests,” says Grant Greenway from ETP Turf. 

“We were all very nervous about what the weather would do as the day had been forecast for high rainfall and possible hail but it all went very well in the end.”

Overall, the reconstruction of the oval has been quite a successful project.

The first phase of the construction was done by Turf One and Grant says that from his point of view he was extremely impressed with the professional approach.

Their project management capabilities were excellent, in particular their on-site Project Manager, Gavin Longworth.

“Through their excellent workmanship and unique turf construction methodology they actually completed the construction and turf laying phases of the project well ahead of schedule” says Grant.

The maxi-rolls of Santa Ana turf were laid during the first week of December and were installed by Turf One and sub-contractor Melbourne Stadiums, who also did a tremendous job in Grant’s opinion.

This part of the construction process took about a week with the turf having its first cut within a week of being laid.

The next stage after the construction contract was completed was a transition phase involving the handover from the principal construction contractors back to Bayside City Council.

They are now focussed with the ongoing maintenance of the surface utilising Citywide’s qualified turf staff.

Grant says that happily there have really been no major issues with the transition from construction to maintenance thus far. 

“When the construction contract stage of the project is completed the ground gets handed back to Bayside City Council and everyone signs off on it- the AFL, VFL, stakeholders, Bayside, the principal contractors and Citywide. 

“We all come together and then there is a transition period where Citywide then took over as the principal maintainers of the surface. 

“Citywide have now had responsibility for the maintenance of the ground for about seven to nine weeks. And I believe this is the first time that Citywide have inherited a reconstructed VFL surface and their work has been outstanding to date,” says Grant.

Citywide have had the principal service contract for Bayside City Council in open spaces for the last 10 years.

Gary Bass is the operations manager for Citywide’s Bayside City Council contract and has been in that role for nearly 12 months.

He is a well-regarded and a recognised name within the golf industry, having worked in it for 28 years, 23 of which were spent as superintendent at various clubs including Yering Meadows, Croydon, Spring Valley and Woodlands. 

“A lot of my role at the moment is all about education and implementing sound turf management practices across the entire turf surfaces we are responsible for. 

“My background in golf courses means I understand that the new surface at Trevor Barker Oval will have some specific requirements and I understand that the ground will have ongoing needs and that’s when my experience hopefully will help.”

Because the surface is quite juvenile, turf growth has been a bit irregular at times and at this early stage it has proven to be hungry profile and requiring frequent amendment and fertiliser applications as well as aeration.

Gary is working on an intensive maintenance program including a higher frequency cutting program and a requirement for regular aeration practices across the surface. 

“Pro-Coring to keep the surface open has been done and we will continue to schedule these sorts of actions when required. 

“We’ve already put in place some routine programs, such as mowing it at a high frequency if required, inspecting it daily and in between that we will be continuing fertiliser and fungicide programs that will need to be constantly reviewed.”

Gary comments that making sure the ground was up to scratch in such a short period of time during the transition phase and then the first scheduled VFL game has been a learning curve for everyone on his team. 

Despite this, Citywide have put in a proactive management program and Gary has also engaged specific resources from other parts of Citywide, whether it be personnel or machinery to use at the Trevor Barker Beach Oval site and to assist with keeping the surface in as good a condition as possible. 

“I am down here on a daily basis, as it is a priority at the moment until we get used to what is required.

“But I agree with Grant that it has been a relatively headache free hand over and transition from construction to maintenance.”

Now that the weather is getting colder, the growth on the oval will also slow down.

Gary says that one of his current priorities is keeping the newly established couch surface covered with cool season ryegrass acting as protection against excessive wear and maintaining a quality looking surface.

“After we oversow again we will fertilise and look at other options such as foliar amendments, and some of the new applications to improve condition, even with the couch going into slight dormancy.”

Gary adds that it is important for Citywide to make sure they do not forget about the other grounds in the Bayside City Council area that they look after also but he enjoys the challenges this brings.

“Every club thinks their ground is just as important, but the Trevor Barker Oval site is probably getting a little bit more emphasis, being on a unique site and the unique profile of the ground. 

“Because of this, the Bayside City Council is being a little bit more proactive and flexible when it comes to maintenance and management of the surface. 

“In saying this, it is a bit of a balancing act because we don’t want to be forgetting about the other community grounds down the road that we have just reconstructed as well, but there’s a fair bit of work here. 

“For me coming from golf, it is slightly different again, but at the end of the day it is turf and it has the same elements and the same turf structure and soil structure and that sort of thing.”

Gary says that Citywide’s maintenance of this ground will be a fantastic opportunity for the company to demonstrate its capabilities.

He and his staff are keen to show the public and the industry that there is more to Citywide than just mowing nature strips and parks.

“We certainly have some good, qualified turf staff that enjoy a challenge and getting into the presentation of a ground of this quality and hopefully we will get a few televised games and that sort of thing.

“There is certainly a bit of a passion from some of the boys to really put a lot into it.” 

In closing Grant says “The smooth transition that has occurred is quite unique, it is less common than people might expect and often these things can fall apart very dramatically when you go from the construction guys to the maintenance guys, but my observations so far are that Citywide are doing a great job”

Turfmate_logoArticle courtesy of turfmate – www.turfmate.com.au