By Times Staff
Gloucester Daily Times
---- — The digging is virtually complete.
Now, the building can begin toward creating the city’s “new” Newell Stadium at Gloucester High School, city project manager Stephen Winslow says.
With the Gloucester Fishermen’s Athletic Association now at the $2.1 million mark — following two significant boosts from local businesses — the city, which has bonded $1.5 million for the public-private project and has carried out installation of drainage and other ground work at the field, will soon be ready to head up construction on the stadium bleachers and installation of the track and the turf field, Winslow said Thursday.
“People will really see things starting to go up by the end of March,” said Winslow, adding that the stadium project is very much on track for the school’s athletes and others to be able to use the facility by the fall as planned.
“We have dug out soils and brought in soil that will go under the concrete where the new stands will go,” Winslow said of the work that’s been going on at Newell over the past several days. “We’ve also flagged out where the track and the field will go, and installed the initial parts of the under drainage for the field itself.
“Right now, we’re working to complete all the preliminary site preparations,” he noted, adding that the drainage system should not only help the stadium and its field – which sits below sea level — but will “actually help the whole neighborhood drain a little better, too.”
The latest work on the so-called Newell Renewal project comes with some aspects of the project still in the planning stages. That’s partly because the GFAA continues to seek and attract funding for the new facility.
Recent boosts have included a $100,000 grant from the Demoulas supermarket corporation and its Market Basket supermarket in Gloucester Crossing, along with a $10,000 boost from Timberline, the Gloucester building supply company based on Pond Road.
The project has also drawn support through a $698,000 allocation through the city’s Community Preservation Committee, topping prior $500,000 boosts from New Balance athletic shoes and the state’s PARC (Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities) grant program. The Newell effort has also landed a $100,000 matching grant from the nonprofit Dusky Foundation, several other gifts from businesses and the GFAA’s own grassroots “$1,000 by 1,000” campaign — with up to 1,000 individual supporters contributing $1,000 each by contributing $200 a year over a five-year period.
The additional fund-raising has enabled the city and the GFAA to ensure the inclusion of some features that were initially left on the budgeting floor, Winslow said, including a better and red-coated surface for the track, field lights, and smaller walking lights, which Winslow said will improve conditions for residents to run or walk the new track after dark.
Other potential additions may still be in the works, he noted, including replacement and upgrading of the scoreboard, and perhaps the addition of what Winslow called mobile bleachers that could be used for visitors-side football stands, be peeled back for practice space, or easily moved even to other venues, whether to other school fields or other facilities.
“There are a lot of things we can add that weren’t in the original bids,” Winslow said — “things that we knew we can add as we get toward completion.
“We didn’t want to have add-ons such as those hold up the construction — we didn’t want the tail to stop the dog from going forward, so to speak,” Winslow said. “But these are things we know we can add even after the main work is complete.”