Although the new school year is less than a month away, construction of the tennis courts and the running track at Hingham High School are well on their way to being completed by fall and coming in under budget.
According to School Committee Chair Caryl Falvey, the exact budget numbers aren't yet available. But the $60,000 updates to the tennis courts are already completed, and the courts have been open to the public for use for some time.
“I walked by the tennis courts the other day and there was a couple planning tennis on the court, and a woman said, ‘I’ve gone to heaven. The courts are just great.’” Falvey said. “That’s wonderful when it’s residents using the courts also; they appreciate having them in much better shape.”
The $447,000 renovation to the running track is also nearly finished. The asphalt is down and the site is curing, Falvey said. Soon, construction workers will lay down the top layer of the track, which will be red with white lines.
Friends of Hingham Track and the Hingham Sports Partnerships have also donated money for jumping boards, which are used for the long jump. According to Falvey, the jumping boards will be installed next week.
Additionally, the grass has been repaired on the field inside the track to make fall football possible, and because the project was so under budget, several enhancements have been added to the track construction along the way.
“We put more asphalt and fixed the area in front of the concessions stand. It looks much better and is more user-friendly. We also put a path in to the visitor bleachers. Everything is coming together,” Falvey said.
To make sure everything goes to plan, the schools' business manager, John Ferris, has been keeping an eye on the progress, checking in weekly.
Track coaches Dave and Fred Jewett Hingham High School jumping coach Dawn Diedricksen have also been inspecting the track and jumping areas as the final parts of it come together
Overall, it’s been a smooth process this summer, Falvey said.
“We’re still under budget, which is wonderful. The contractor has been great … [and] they’ve been able to complete the project in a timely manner,” Falvey said.
With the first phase of renovation wrapping up, Hingham school officials are also looking into the construction of a multipurpose field.
So far, committee members have been able to design the field with $275,000 received from Town Meeting. Funding for the construction will be requested at a later date.
Yet planning has also gone according to schedule.
School Committee members decided in June to place the multipurpose field on the practice football field, between the current football stadium and Union Street. Now, committee members are taking a look at the amenities for the new space.
“We went with a smaller bleacher size for 1,600 people. That will allow [the Ad Hoc Field Committee] to go forward making some recommendations as to where they will be located, and it will jog the facilities requirement as for the number of toilets,” Falvey said. “They’ve got three meetings planned within the next month, so they will start really narrowing down the decisions and making recommendations so we can vote. [We’re] planning to put an article together for Town Meeting in April.”
Yet to be decided is whether the field will have grass or artificial turf and whether the field will have lighting.
“It’s been discussed,” Falvey said. “We brought experts in to discuss the use of synthetic material verses natural turf, and they did presentations on that. [We had] an excellent presentation on lighting, and [the School Committee] will be voting on that later in September.”
Prior to a vote, members of the School Committee plans to host a public meeting on Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. in room 103 of Hingham High School to solicit more feedback on which direction to go.
The Ad Hoc committee will then make a recommendation to the School Committee, who will vote on a plan to put forward to the town.
Because so many decisions are still up in the air, the cost for the field is still unknown.
Regardless, Falvey said fundraising will eventually play a big part in making the multi-field plans from conception to reality.
“We haven’t discussed fund-raising yet. Until we know what the ad hoc committee is going to recommend to us, it’s hard to even begin a fund-raising effort. But we will…we pretty much promised it would be a public private effort, and we will look for some help in the funding process,” Falvey said.