Whitney Field will keep its namesake

Zoe Greszler • Jul 15, 2019 at 10:00 PM

Whitney Field is moving along in its three-phase construction project, while Norwalk City Schools eyes the possibility of a fourth phase. 

Fundraising for the third phase is coming along well, director of operations Corey Ream said at Tuesday’s meeting. Ream said he was “pretty sure” he knew who the top donor would be. However, he couldn’t release the name of the company or figures since the information wasn’t official.

When asked if the school board had a figure on how much this portion of the project — which will result in a new turf for the field — would cost, Superintendent George Fisk said it will depend on which company is hired, a factor which hasn’t been decided yet. Fisk said the committee hopes to “be close to an answer” in the next couple weeks after finishing some research.

“Because we haven’t hired a turf company yet, that will determine the final cost,” Fisk said. “It can range anywhere from $500,000 and $900,000 — $500,000 could be like bare bones, while $900,000 could be getting every option that’s available; so it will just depend.”

Regardless of which of the companies the district goes with, Ream said they hope to have the team playing on a newly turfed field in time for the 2020 football season. He said they hope to be able to begin the project right after the upcoming season ends.  

The new visitors’ bleachers should be ready in time for this fall’s football season. Concrete was poured and prep-work finished this week to make way for the actual installation process. 

When it came to naming rights, or any areas of the field, board member John Lendrum recommended more research before anything hard and fast was set in stone.

“I think we need to check on naming rights — legally — and in what’s good for community,” he said, adding that he didn’t want to see the Whitney Field name disappear from the center.

Fisk reassured Lendrum that wasn’t the committee’s intent. 

“No, we don’t want to lose the tradition and meaning behind the field,” Fisk added. 

Instead, Ream said he’s seen other districts simply have several areas of a field that give recognition to those who support the school project the most. 

Finishing Phase III with a new turf and resurfacing and updating the track may not be the end of the project, as originally planned. The board heard the possibility of a fourth phase being added. 

“Several months ago we hired an architectural design firm to give us a long term vision for Whitney field,” Ream said. “It could accomplish things like redoing the concession stands. We’re probably a little under what we could be for restroom size and the (field’s) front entrance leaves a little to be desired. Phase IV would be kind of like the bells and whistles.”

Lendrum said based on feedback he’s received from the community, he believes a bathroom expansion would be a welcome update.

Because the phase is still preliminary, further details were not immediately available after the meeting.

Dant Clayton, a Louisville, Ky. company, is replacing the visitors bleachers for $118,720, which will be paid through the permanent improvement fund. The board approved the project in March, so it would be complete by the time football season starts.

“We’ve got to raise enough money to do it right,” Fisk told the board Tuesday, referring to the football field and track.

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