Back to school: Freeport turf field behind schedule

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FREEPORT — Renovation of Freeport High School is expected to be finished when classes resume Sept. 5, but construction of the school’s new athletic complex is running behind schedule.

After Regional School Unit 5 voters approved building an artificial turf field and eight-lane track at Freeport High School in January, construction began in May.

RSU 5 Superintendent Becky Foley and Dennis Ouellette, Freeport High School operations and maintenance director, this week said the hope was to have the project done by the start of school.

They are now looking at Oct. 13 as the likely completion date.

“In construction, things never go as planned,” Ouellette said.

The nearly $4.5 million project will replace the school’s old grass field. About $1.4 million is being funded by RSU 5; nearly $2.3 million has been raised by the Tri Town Track and Field Committee, including a $1.35 million donation from Nike. About $760,000 in leftover funds from Freeport High School renovations is also being put towards field and track.

Nike also produces the Nike Grind material that will be used for the project.

About $356,000 of that was allotted to install four 80-foot stadium lights around the track. The lights are LED, or light emitting diodes, making Freeport High School the first high school in the state to use LED lighting on its athletic field.

“When you’re able to have night games you’re able to get better attendance,” Foley said. “It fills that sense that sense of community in the RSU.”

All Freeport High School soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, and football teams will now practice and host games on the turf.

The high school’s track team is bused to Bowdoin College in Brunswick for practices and is unable to host meets at home.

The football team will play at Pownal Road fields and all other sports will use the Hunter Road fields until the project is complete.

According to Foley, if the project is done by Oct. 13, the high school will hold an opening ceremony at the new facility and sports teams will host final games of the season Oct. 14 on the new turf.

“There’s still a ways to go,” Foley said. “(But) everyone is very excited about the opening and we feel like it will be well-used and well-received by the community.”

The interior of the high school has also seen a lot of renovation this summer, and Foley said she is confident the two-year, $10.7 million project will be completed this week.

The renovations were approved by RSU 5 voters in November 2013 and began in October 2015.

After opening the school’s new two-story addition of almost 30,000 square feet at the northwest end of the building last winter, Sheridan Corp., a Portland-based commercial construction company, is now wrapping up work inside the original school building.

Renovations include a new front entrance; new administration, nursing, and guidance offices; two new STEM classrooms; a new Life Skills classroom, and new flooring, paint, lighting, and ceilings in most main hallways and classrooms.

Lockers have also been removed in the school’s front hallway to create more space.

“I can see improvements every time I come up here,” Foley said. “It really is something.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

RSU 5 Superintendent Becky Foley and Freeport High School Operations and Maintenance Director Dennis Ouellette at the construction site of Freeport High School’s new turf field and track. The project’s targeted completion date is now Oct. 13.

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