SWR athletic club aims to upgrade high school’s field

12/06/2011 1:00 PM |

KEVIN WOOD COURTESY PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River High School's athletic field will receive a makeover if a non-profit athletic club's plan comes through.

Shoreham-Wading River High School’s athletic field could get a facelift at no cost to taxpayers if a non-profit athletic club’s plan comes to fruition.

The Wildcat Athletic Club, a private charity that supports the district’s athletic activities, plans to raise all funds necessary to install an indoor press box with bathrooms, permanent lighting, new bleachers and a new turf field.

Christopher Rosati, a club member who is spearheading fundraising efforts, said the total cost estimate is about $775,000.

A handful of community members agreed to donate labor and materials for the first phase of the project —— building the press box, installing a septic system and erecting lights on the field — which equates to a $175,00 donation, Mr. Rosati.

WAC will ask local businesses, community residents and local politicians for help in raising funds.

“The state of New York does not really have an appetite to get money for our schools, so we need to upgrade our schools [ourselves],” Mr. Rosati said. “Our community members came forward with the press box and bathrooms, so we’re starting with something we know we can do.”

The bulk of the project will be installing a new turf field — a $500,000 undertaking. Mr. Rosati said the field could accommodate the district’s football, lacrosse, and girls and boys soccer teams. He didn’t know whether the turf would be suitable for field hockey.

The bleachers at the athletic field, which is made of grass, currently sit on the west side of the field, which backs up to the Long Island Pine Barrens, a forested area of publicly protected land. The athletic club plans to station new bleachers on the opposite side of the athletic field, further away from the Pine Barrens.

Mr. Rosati said the club’s field renovation committee expects the first phase of the project — the press box, septic system and lighting — to be completed by the start of next year’s fall sports season.

Board of Education president Bill McGrath said the school board will have to approve all donations and ensure all building and installation satisfies New York State Education Department requirements.

He said he doesn’t yet have details on approval procedures, as the school board hasn’t been offered a donated project on such a large scale in recent memory.

He said the field has been maintained, but never upgraded.

“Any time residents of your district look to improve some aspect of it, you don’t say no,” Mr. McGrath said. “They’re showing some support for the center of our community — our school district.”

Mr. Rosati said the project will bring bathrooms to the field for the first time, enable teams to play games at night and create another venue for school events after the sun goes down.

“It will not only benefit student-athletes but several other community events,” he said.

An agenda for next Tuesday’s school board meeting has not yet been released, but Mr. Rosati plans to discuss the project that night.

To donate to the project, send checks, payable to SWR Wildcat Athletic Club-Field Renovation Project, to: P.O. Box 134, Wading River, N.Y. 11792. Tax ID # 11-3569112. For more information, go to SWRFieldofDreams.com.

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