HAMDEN >> The fields behind Hamden High School will be closed to the public this summer as work started this week on major renovations that will fix long-standing problems and expand the ability for teams to use them at the same time.
Both the football field and the baseball field will undergo renovations that will fix drainage problems and expand the use of the baseball field, according to Legislative Council President James Pascarella, who for years has championed the work finally coming to fruition.
“We are very, very pleased to come out here today and formally open up this project,” he said. “This has been years in the making. Years ago when Hamden High School was originally renovated, a lot of emphasis was put on the academics. The designing and the phasing in of the athletics would come later, and unfortunately in my opinion it wasn’t done right.
“Finally, today, we get to correct what I think has been an unfortunate design for a Double-L school by breaking ground here,” Pascarella said, “fixing this field, and also we will start on [the baseball and softball field] and turn that into an all-purpose field so we can have more than one sport play at Hamden High School at the same time, which we have been unable to accommodate for the last 15 years.
It’s going to cost about $2.5 million for each field, which includes synthetic turf and new lighting. The council approved bonding for the project at a special meeting last month.
“I’m really pleased that we got the opportunity to do both of the playing fields,” he said.
The baseball and softball field will now be an all-purpose field, which will help the school’s Athletic Department by allowing other sports such as soccer and field hockey teams to begin using that field. Currently, only the baseball and softball teams could use the field, but after the work is completed, it will double as an all-purpose field, Pascarella said. “It will basically double our fields,” he said. “You can’t run a Class LL athletic program with one field.
“This will finally alleviate the pressure on the Athletic Department,” Pascarella said. “Since we did the renovation [at the school], many were of the opinion that they were short-changed.”
Drainage problems have plagued the football field, where were evidenced Wednesday by the wet conditions of the exposed gravel on the field after heavy rains that morning. The gravel is supposed to allow for drainage, Pascarella said, but the materials used in the last renovation were wrong and resulted in the problems.
“The Hamden High School fields are a great gathering place for education, sporting and community events. These fields are used year-round by students, young athletes and community members alike,” Mayor Curt Balzano Leng said.
“We will do it the right way this time,” Leng said, “and make it a safer field for everyone.”