Winston Wells Ball Field on Its Way to Getting Green


Winston Wells ball field was tilled and seeded in an effort to make the field safer for the athletes who use it. The field should be ready to reopen in October.

Thanks to about 15 volunteers who showed up for a work day in mid-July, grass has already started to grow on Winston Wells ball field.

“We got a whole bunch of big machines and about 15 people came out,” said Charlie Palminteri, the 10-year-old mastermind behind the plan to transform the Cruz Bay playing field. “We turned over the whole field and put down a whole bunch of compost and sand and then we spread seeds and fertilizer to start the grass growing.”

Palminteri, who will enter the sixth grade at Gifft Hill School in the fall, came up with a plan to seed the field for a science fair project two years ago when he was in the fourth grade.

He was inspired to devise a way to improve the condition of the hard-packed field after his older brother was injured playing flag football on Winston Wells ball field.

“I knew some people who had gotten injured playing on the field,” said Palminteri. “My bother got a fractured heel playing flag football and then we saw someone break his femur bone during an adult’s flag football game. The ground was really hard and there were cement slabs in the field too.”

Palminteri knew just where to look for guidance too. GHS has had a partnership with Iowa State University for several years as the two institutions collaborate on the Education and Resiliency Through Horticulture program. It just so happens that Dr. David Minner, an Iowa State turf field expert, resurfaced Yankee Stadium.

After consulting with Minner and doing “lots of research,” Palminteri developed a plan to till the field, and use compost and sand donated from Caneel Bay Resort, Carolina Corral and Gifft Hill School mixed with soil and seed the area. The field would be watered, mowed and maintained by volunteers who already stepped forward.

Palminteri’s project made so much sense, and identified sources for materials and volunteers for manpower, his science teacher encouraged him to pursue renovating the field.

“Everyone has said, ‘yeah that’s a really good idea,’” said Palminteri. “We had a meeting with the Department of Sports and Recreation and they approved.”

Palminteri obtained government approval for the plan during the school year and waited until after St. John Festival events wrapped up to launch the seeding project.

Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation officials issued a press release last month announcing that Winston Wells ball field was closed until October 1 to allow for renovation and landscaping.

“We planned to do this during the summer when no one was going to use it for a month or so,” said Palminteri.

After tilling and seeding the field last month, Palminteri got some help from volunteers who installed a timed water sprinkler system, he explained.

“We put the sprinklers in place and turned them all on and now they’re on timers,” said Palminteri. “You’ll see them on the field if you go by.”

Palminteri and his family keep tabs on the field’s progress, he added.

“We drive by every day and look at it,” he said. “Grass is starting to grow already.”

Although not ready yet, new grass should welcome flag football players who show up to play this season at Winston Wells ball field.