Newburyport bank donates $525k toward Triton stadium renovation
The bulk of a $600,000 gift from the Institution for Savings in Newburyport to the Triton Education Foundation will be used to help transform the school district’s aging stadium into a top-notch sports complex.
The money will help remedy a litany of problems: The football field has poor drainage, the latex track is wearing through, and the bleachers need to be replaced.
The bank has pledged $525,000 toward an extensive restoration of the stadium, which was built in the late 1960s in the Byfield section of Newbury. Of that amount, $225,000 will be given at the start of the project, with the remaining $300,000 provided over several years.
In addition to the stadium repairs, the bank also is donating $50,000 to outfit every middle- and high-school classroom in the district with digital projectors and $25,000 to improve the lighting and sound system in Triton’s performing arts center. The Triton school system serves students from the towns of Newbury, Rowley, and Salisbury.
“This is an incredibly generous gift from the Institution for Savings, one for which we are so grateful,’’ said Triton school superintendent Christopher Farmer, noting that the donation was made following months of discussion between the bank and Triton education officials about the regional school district’s needs. “This commitment allows us to jump-start much needed renovations to our stadium and fields much sooner than we thought possible.
“Additionally, we can realize the Triton Education Foundation’s vision of having state-of-the-art projectors in our classrooms, and make some much-needed improvements in the high school auditorium. These are important investments in the future of the community.’’
The bank’s gift is the largest single donation ever made to the nonprofit education foundation. In recognition, the renovated stadium will be named the Institution for Savings Stadium.
“This gift and pledge is just a natural extension of the bank’s ongoing commitment to the Triton Regional School District,’’ said Michael J. Jones, the bank’s president and chief executive officer. “There are few better uses of our charitable funds than schools and education, and we’re happy to be able to make a difference in this way.’’
The School Committee last week hired Gale Associates, an engineering and planning firm with offices in seven states, including one in Weymouth, to conduct a feasibility study for the stadium project. The firm is expected to present its report to the School Committee in mid-November, Farmer said.
Farmer said the school district has no plans to ask residents in the three towns to contribute to the stadium project through taxes. Instead, Triton will embark on a major fund-raising campaign to cover costs. A preliminary report completed earlier this year estimated the renovation would cost $1.7 million, but that figure may change, Farmer said, noting that the project will be largely driven by the success of fund-raising efforts.
“We’re trying to develop a facility that will not just be a high school facility, but one that will be able to serve the communities,’’ said Farmer. “We’re thinking of an eight-lane track and a turf field for soccer and football games. We see the possibility of school and band competitions and a stadium that is capable of hosting playoff events in high school athletics or perhaps even state events, such as state finals.’’
Farmer said he hopes to break ground on the project immediately after graduation in 2012, “but we’ve got a lot of bridges to cross in terms of what’s feasible in terms of design and fund-raising. We are driving as hard and as fast as we can, but we recognize we have a number of challenges ahead.’’
Founded 191 years ago, the Institution for Savings is Newburyport’s oldest employer. The bank has a long history of supporting local public education. In 2005, the bank pledged $600,000 to the Newburyport Education Foundation that was used to install new science laboratories at the Rupert A. Nock Middle School as well as fund ongoing maintenance and a science speaker series at the school.
In the Triton district, the bank provides an annual $15,000 scholarship for students, supports the computer laboratory, and is financing the 21st century greenhouse program.
“The Institution for Savings understands that by investing in our schools, it is investing in the long-term future of the communities we serve,’’ said Dina Sullivan, chairwoman of the Triton Regional School Committee.
Brenda J. Buote may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.