By Steven Fletcher Staff Writer
Gloucester Daily Times
---- — Bulldozers and excavators have leveled out part of what used to be Newell Stadium, with workers on Friday putting in a foundation for a new set of bleachers, one of the first steps toward building the new stadium.
Heimlich Construction of Woburn, the contractor that is building the stadium, broke ground in September after the city put the $3.5 million project out to bid in the spring.
But while the construction’s already started, the Gloucester Fishermen’s Athletic Association is still raising money to pay for it. And now, $300,000 in Community Preservation Act funding could power the project, on top of a $1.5 million bond from the city and roughly $500,000 in fund and outstanding pledges from the GFAA.
The project became eligible for the CPA funding in June, after the State Legislatures approved a change to the act that allowed funds to be used for existing recreational facilities. The Newell Stadium project was ineligible for those funds two years ago.
When the Legislature passed the change, projects like Newell were allowed to apply, even through the city’s Community Preservation Committee had picked the applications it would recommend to the City Council for funding in March. The GFAA, said fund-raising head Dick Wilson, asked for $297,500. That money fills out the $3.5 million cost for the project and lets the GFAA tackle some of the project alternates, like a red-surface track. Sandra Dahl Ronan, co-chair of the preservation committee, said the committee recommended the city fund the Newell Stadium request. The committee has $85,000 on hand, and would ask the council to short-term borrow for the rest. Ronan said the committee supports the Newell stadium project.
“We would go through for the full amount one way or another,” Ronan said.
When Heimlich broke ground in September, the GFAA was about $300,000 short of the $3.5 million goal. Wilson said the CPA funding would fill out the $3.5 million and put the GFAA on its way to funding the project alternates.
Crews from Heimlich Construction have turned Newell Stadium into a moonscape. A flat dirt plain with a giant grass covered mound lays where the track and bleachers stood. Project Manager Todd Heimlich sits at the controls of an excavator at the corner of the site.
He says he’ll be done by August. But, before winter, there are light poles to set, a foundation to pour and drainage to dig.
“If I can get the two (light pole) foundations in by Thanksgiving, I can pour the (bleacher) foundation before december,” Heimlich said.
Fundraising, just like construction, is still moving. While the GFAA raised nearly enough to build the stadium, Wilson said there are a few more things that they’d like to add. He said the GFAA would like to have a red surface track, walking lights, and risers for the bleachers.
Together, that runs about $168,000. Wilson said the GFAA is going back to people who didn’t give the first time.
“A lot of people didn’t give anything because they thought nothing was going to happen,” Wilson said, “well guess what. It’s happening.”
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.