Burbank Unified will break ground early next year on the long-awaited renovation of John Burroughs High School Memorial Field, district officials said.
The formal ground-breaking ceremony, scheduled at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 5 on the site at 1920 Clark Ave., comes after a 22-month delay that has frustrated public officials and community members.
"I know there has been some skepticism about whether we are really going to do it this time," Burbank Unified Supt. Stan Carrizosa said. "We have all the final clearances and authorizations from the Department of State Architecture, and the project architect has already been hired. There is a construction manager who will partner with us from the city."
The refurbishment of Memorial Field is the final component of an $18.5-million, three-phase capital improvement project centered on modernizing athletic facilities at Burroughs and Burbank high schools, and Jordan Middle School.
The joint-use project for the city of Burbank and Burbank Unified was approved by the City Council in February 2007 after years of discussion, planning and fundraising.
The city contributed $14.2 million and the district contributed $4.6 million toward the project, said Bonnie Teaford, director of public works for the city. A fundraising committee, Celebrate Gratitude, also raised about $700,000, said committee chairman Michael Hastings.
Work at Burbank High School was completed in summer 2009 and cost about $4 million. It included the installation of an artificial turf field and an all-weather track. The $1.9-million Jordan Middle School project is 95% complete and includes a new, natural-grass field and 75 additional parking spaces.
The Burroughs Memorial Field renovation is the most extensive and, at $12.7 million, the most expensive of the projects. It calls for a complete facelift of the site, including a new field and all-weather track, new bleachers and a new concession stand.
Work on the field was originally scheduled to begin in April 2009, but was delayed pending approval from the Department of State Architecture.
City officials and community leaders, many of whom attended Burroughs High School, said they are eager to finally see the project start. The call to remodel Memorial Field has been building since 1990, when a community task force was assembled to explore funding options, said City Councilman Jess Talamantes.
"Having played there, and with my kids having played there, I am excited," Talamantes said. "It is going to be a very good thing for the community, one of the jewels of the city."
Former Burbank Mayor Jef Vander Borght said that he, like hundreds of other community members, frequents Memorial Field not only for sporting events but for personal exercise. He described the remodel as a win-win for the school district and the city.
"I am delighted to see it come to fruition," Vander Borght said.
Officials said they would love to have Memorial Field completed in time for next year's Burroughs-Burbank homecoming football game, which is traditionally the final game of the regular season, but they aren't making any promises.
"We are really excited," Burroughs High Principal Emilio Urioste said. "The field will be in sync with the modernization that has occurred at both high schools … It will also flow with the architecture and the image of the city of Burbank. And it will really stand out as Memorial Field."
FOR THE RECORD: This corrects an earlier version to say that the field project was a joint venture between the city and Burbank Unified.