The grass is green all over the field at Melbourne Oval and club president Mark Neita says that although he is pleased with what he described as a tremendous improvement of the playing surface, he wants it to be even better.
Neita, who was re-elected club president in December, had previously told The Gleaner that one of his main objectives was to have a playing area fully covered by grass and said he intended to achieve that goal early this year.
The Gleaner visited the clubhouse located on Courtney Walsh Drive, Half-Way Tree, yesterday and found that Neita has been meeting his objective as almost the entire ground is covered by grass.
"This has been a tremendous effort by everybody at Melbourne and CHASE (the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education Fund)," Neita said. "The (cost of ) field renovation is close to $7 million and we got a significant amount of it from CHASE, but there's more to come. It has been a tremendous effort from our members and ground staff. It is not yet at the point of perfection, but it is about 75 per cent there. In the next three to four weeks, we intend to have the entire area fully grassed."
But what about the periods of drought common to Jamaica? Neita says that this has been considered and the club is ready for such an occurrence.
"What we did is that we have a fully automated irrigation system. Unfortunately, we couldn't dig a well because of that expense. So instead, we have created adequate storage of 15,000 gallons of water. Once the field gets to the point of maturity, we'll be able to water it maybe once or twice per week and maintain it throughout the dry spell with the hope that once the rain starts, we'll be OK."
Neita says that the problems arise if you do not water fields like theirs throughout dry periods or if the soil is not healthy enough.
"We've brought in 100 loads of topsoil and full irrigation system, so every corner of the park will be watered once we turn it on," he said. "It's going to be maintenance maintenance, maintenance, because you can't spend this kind of money for one or two years. This must last for the next 10 or 15 years. Sustainability is a big part of what we're trying to do here."