A group made up of parents, school district staff and members of the School Committee is proposing construction of a 1,600-seat, multi-use athletic complex as part of the new high school construction project.
As part of the new $66 million high school, there are already plans for a new football field with seating for 500 and a natural grass surface surrounded by a six-lane synthetic track.
However, members of Friends of the Tewksbury Community Athletic Complex say the plans are simply insufficient for the needs of the Athletic programs of the school and the community as a whole.
"Currently, there is no lighting, no scoreboard, no goals, no nets and no press box," said Paul Hibner, who serves on the board of the FTCAC and acted as spokesman, while presenting its proposal to the High School Building Committee last week.
In the Powerpoint presentation, Hibner outlined a proposal that called for the same synthetic track to surround a state-of-the-art artificial turf field, suitable for football, soccer, lacrosse and community functions.In addition the proposal called for the a six-court tennis complex to be constructed adjacent to the field. The entire complex would have lighting for nighttime activities. Seating on both sides of the field would accommodate 1,600 people, along with the additional concession and restroom space to go along with the added seating.
The proposal also included a press box and scoreboard.
In all, the FTCAC estimates their proposal would cost $2.2 million above and beyond the plan present athletic field plan included in the $66 million high school project.
"We're building this first-class, state-of-the-art (high school), why not have a field to go along with it," said Tewksbury Athletic Director Brian Hickey, another member of FTCAC. Other members of the group include newly elected School Committee member Brian Dick, School Committee Chairwoman Krissy Polimeno and Lee-Ann Petheridge.
In terms of funding the construction, the proposal calls for $500,000 in private donations and $200,000 in grants to be sought. Hibner said he the group is planning to ask voters at future Town Meeting if they would be willing to allow $1.5 million in budgeted but unspent school construction funds be allocated for the higher-grade athletic complex.Hibner stressed that such a complex would be available for use by the town recreation programs and other local groups.
Members of the School Building Committee were intrigued by the concept and seveal said they are looking forward to see a more fleshed-out plan.Committee Chairman Jamie Cutelis asked Hibner and his group to meet with the project design team to discuss how the two projects might be able to dovetail.
Peter Collins, senior associate with Heery International, the project management firm, said he didn't want to throw water on the plan but said there were some significant practical issues that needed to be addressed for a change of this magnitude to be made in the scope of the project.Primarily, Collins said the timing element was tight and that plans would need to be put together sooner rather than later. Collins said he and his team would be glad to meet with FTCAC.
In terms of groundbreaking and construction time, the FTCAC proposal is very similar to the existing plan. In either of the plans, the new field would not be ready for use until the fall of 2013, one year after the opening of the new high school.