The Mamaroneck schools held a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday afternoon, July 29, to officially kick off renovations to Mamaroneck High School’s flagship athletic field and to celebrate progress on the MHS Memorial Field Project 2010, a joint initiative between the district and private fundraising from the community.
Superintendent Dr. Robert Shaps, who began his tenure with the Mamaroneck School District earlier this month, said, “It’s exciting to think about the wonderful collaboration that took place to make this happen, and I’m pleased to have the opportunity to see the project through for the benefit of our students and the entire Larchmont-Mamaroneck community in the years to come.”
Dr. Shaps applauded the community’s generosity in stepping up to the plate to cover the costs of the project at a time when the district was not able to do so. He said it’s important that the community understand that no additional district monies were set aside in the current budget for the field. A total of $500,000 had already been approved by voters in 2004 for this project, and New York Assemblyman George Latimer pledged an additional $250,000 in state funding towards it. The remaining dollars came solely from private fundraising led by Fields for Kids and the local youth sports leagues.
The public-private partnership to renovate Memorial Field consists of a phased in plan, with the existing natural grass field being reoriented in the first phase and replaced with a more resilient synthetic turf surface that will be able to withstand the heavy use it endures every day from team sports and physical education classes. Also in the first phase is demolition of the bleachers, press box and maintenance building; installation of drainage; preparation for future installation of lights, and installation of new temporary bleachers that will be moved to the visitors’ side when permanent bleachers are funded. The demolition services have been donated by community member Joe Naclerio and his company Greenline Industries (for an estimated cost savings to the district of $56,000).
The new field is expected to be complete and ready for use in October. The athletic department has been working with local municipalities and other school districts to be able to use their fields for practices and games during the construction period, in order to minimize disruption to the fall sports season.
“Wheels are in motion to ensure that all team operations run as smoothly as possible. Districts use other fields all the time when they’re going through updates to their own facilities. I’m happy to say that now it’s our turn, and our neighboring teams have been most cooperative thus far,” said Bari Suman, director of health, physical education and athletics. “The inconveniences now will pay off later when we have a fabulous varsity-sized, multi-purpose field to play on.”
The district announced at a board meeting last week that the field work project bids have been awarded. Site work is anticipated to begin next week.