By Kraig Klein and Allie Jorge
In the shadows of James Wilson Young Middle School’s walls, three boys clad in jeans—two wearing navy blue hoodies and the third wearing a bright white hoodie—pass a football amongst each other. One pass, however, results in the football bouncing off of a blue plastic fence erected behind the school. Over that wall are the athletic fields currently being constructed for the student population, a massive project that will only be finished in the fall of 2020 once the newly implanted turf has been given enough time to set roots into the earth.
“[These new fields] have been long overdue,” Tim Mullins, the director of physical education, health and interscholastic sports for Blue Point, said. “It was a collaborative effort. All of it was predicated on what the community wanted.”
The new fields consist of five tennis courts, a football field encircled by a running track, and a baseball diamond. According to Mullins, a $29.9 million bond is funding the project for the sake of various renovations throughout the district’s departments, including music, science and technology. Students and local sports organizations, such as Little League, will be able to use the fields starting in the fall of 2020.
“It’s gonna be a tremendous opportunity for our kids,” John Andruszkiewicz, the principal of James Wilson Young Middle School, said.
The fields will be built according to national regulations, Andruskiewicz explained.. The fields were designed for use not only by gym classes but also for football teams, Little League baseball competitions, and lacrosse league matches.
“It’s really going to be open for a lot of members of the community,” Andruszkiewicz said. “I know a lot of tennis people in the neighborhood use the tennis courts down on Academy Street [Elementary School]. Now, they’re going to be able to use the ones here.”
Mullins said that other renovations throughout the elementary, middle and high school, including new gym floors, windows and lockers, will benefit the students, but the addition of these athletic fields, available to the public, not only makes good use of Blue Point’s homeowner’s tax dollars, but attract newcomers to the area.
“I think it’s a good thing for the school. It’s much needed. The old fields weren’t in the best of shape,” Michael Noon, the parent of two students currently in Blue Point School District, said. “It’s a good thing for the next generation of kids to learn in better facilities.”
The project is being overseen by a subcommittee of ten people, which includes Mullins. For three months, the subcommittee reviewed the facilities accessible to student athletes in order to determine what they felt the students needed. The project was voted on and approved in 2015.
“It was almost like a wishlist for Christmas,” Mullins said. Around $800,000 will be used to construct the new fields, he estimated. “When you start having those conversations, you also want to have the conversations of, ‘How can we really give the best for our students?’”
The project is expected to be completed and made accessible to the public by the fall of 2020. It will remain closed off until then as the newly installed turf needs two growing seasons for the grass to take root and develop before anybody can walk on it.