LEWISTON — Lewiston High School Athletic Director Jason Fuller is faced with the prospect of losing most of the school’s facilities to the impending project to relocate a pair of elementary schools.
And he is embracing the plan with open arms.
“This is a real positive,” Fuller said. “This helps us in our endeavor to put a first-class turf facility on site, and will jump-start that project at the same time. This is going to jump-start everything we’re trying to do.”
Fuller has been trying to help raise money to resurface the school’s primary athletic field, currently known as Don Roux Field at the Franklin Athletic Complex, and the surrounding track and field, baseball and practice fields. The group had raised a significant amount toward that goal — about $1.1 million — but was still short of its goal of $3.4 million.
“This changes the financials a bit in that it lowers the total amount we’ll need,” Fuller said. “Everything that’s there now will be relocated. Any signage we’ve sold or committed to, any promotional items, they will still be there, just moved to the new facilities.”
With the school and its necessary infrastructure taking over the entirety of the primary athletic facility — if approved by the School Committee and then by voters — part of the funds the city would receive from the state would help the city relocate the displaced fields. The project would include filling in a small chasm between the practice football facility and the varsity softball field.
The practice football field would become the school’s main competition field and would be surfaced with artificial turf and accommodate the football, soccer and lacrosse teams. The adjoining land, including the filled-in space and the softball field, would become the new track and field facility and a practice field.
Marcotte Park, which still has an old baseball diamond and ample open space, would be reconfigured to include a varsity baseball diamond and, in the outfield space, a varsity field hockey field.
“With the state relocating the track and field facility as part of the project, the money we’d raised toward that endeavor can also be repurposed to helping to rebuild the baseball field over at Marcotte Park,” Fuller said. “That now might be able to include turf there, as well, both for the outfield and for the field hockey field that will be in the outfield.”
Fuller also said tentative plans are being discussed for a park or plaza among the facilities to include room for a snack stand, restrooms, press box facilities and a concourse.
“The biggest thing now is, with the state funding the shift, we no longer have to worry about the site work part of the project, and we can focus on the amenities that will help make this a first-class facility,” Fuller said.
The city’s plans also call for the possibility of purchasing Drouin Field, at the corner of Walnut and Jefferson streets across Jefferson Street from Marcotte Park, which Fuller said would be converted into another practice field as well as a varsity softball field.
The biggest challenge, Fuller said, beyond actual construction, will be where to play sports during the transition. The city estimated the project to build the school would be complete by 2019. But Fuller said the timetable for the athletics fields is a bit smaller.
“It’s going to make things difficult at times, but we’ll find a way to work around it all,” Fuller said. “We’re hoping that the turf field will be in place so that we can play football and soccer on it by fall 2017. There will be no reason not to play on site by then.”
What could have been a tight spot for the school’s athletic teams, Fuller said, has been turned into a positive.
“This is a big credit to the committee,” Fuller said. “They took their time for a reason. This proposal wasn’t on the table at first, but they took their time, did a good job at weighing all of the options. I think this is a great compromise. It helps everybody in the long run.”