El Camino’s baseball field struggled to become the field it is today

Hit baseballs used to fly past the El Camino College Warrior Field, landing into the maintenance area, the center of the construction technology building causing safety hazards and nearly hitting people passing by.

After three years, following safety complaints, new installations added to the field helped deal with issues not just pertaining to flying baseballs.

“The scope of work was to install all new safety netting around the perimeter of the baseball field, the second major part was to install synthetic turf as part of our sustainability plan, and the most important was that we added restroom facilities that are handicap accessible,” Executive Director of Facilities Jorge Gutierrez told The Union.

Before the project could begin, it had to be approved.

“All our projects that are in design have to be approved by a state agency called the Division of State Architect,” Gutierrez said.

The Division of State Architect reviews and approves plans to make sure facilities are safe.

“We have a geotechnical company that’s testing the brick, the soil, certain areas of a project because the state wants to make sure when that building is completed, that it complies to the plans, and it complies to building code standards and is safe for students to use,” Gutierrez said.

However, upon approval and the start of construction, the field saw unforeseen environmental and financial challenges.

“There were a few unforeseen conditions that occurred during construction,” Bond Project Manager Khloe Campos said.

The biggest issue the field faced was the soil the construction was taking place on. Gutierrez said that additional soil had to be added for elevation purposes.

“What we were finding throughout these projects was that the soil conditions were a little bit loose,” Campos said.

This meant construction called for further digging to fill clean soil into the site, which led to soil testing, as it’s a state requirement to assure hazardous soil isn’t present.

Additional costs were added to the construction budget for the soil testing by the geotechnical company in contract with El Camino College called Leighton.

“These issues that happen actually impact larger projects and we were able to minimize the added costs and focus just on the soil inspector because we had contingency budgets allocated throughout other parties involved,” Campos said.

Such aspects of the project, such as the issue of sewage piping that was not located where it was initially thought to be, as part of the connection from bathrooms to existing sewer pipes, would have cost the college a lot of money if not for the contingency, considering the extra labor and material of excavating soil and extending piping.

As Leighton summarized the added testing costs, facilities had to get approval for the adjusted costs accordingly before they could pay Leighton. The cost was brought up as an agenda item at a Board of Trustees meeting.

“When the company submits a proposal for extra services, we review it in detail and we make sure they justify their extra costs,” Gutierrez said, “in fact, we negotiated the price down.”

The price was negotiated down by $10,000 and then presented to the Board, where it was approved.

“Based on the work we actually completed, the cost was $55,000,” Campos said, but after the negotiation, they “were able to talk [Leighton] down to $45,000.”

Campos said for the particular project, funding and the budget is coming from the Measure E bond, a state-wide community college allotment.

Today, the field is completed and the baseball team is back to work.

“We have been discussing with the board, we’re complete and that’s why we’re marking it with this notice of completion this month,” Campos said.

For El Camino’s baseball team, the completion of the field has given the team something to look forward to at future home games.

“The baseball team and coaching staff have been very positive about the field,” Campos said. “They’re glad the timing of completion worked out with their season, it’s exciting for all the players.”

Positive feedback for the field has also been noted by various visitors on campus.

“So far, we’ve had no complaints,” Director of Athletics Jeffrey Miera said. “We’ve heard a ton of positive feedback from everybody that’s been coming on to campus like visiting teams or administrators.”