OLD TOWN, Maine — Progress is continuing on the initial phases of a three-part, $1.5 million renovation project involving the athletic facilities at Old Town High School.
And already the look of Victory Field and its immediate surroundings is markedly different than just a few months ago.
A new eight-lane track that circles the football field — the crown jewel of the early stages of the project — is now paved and waiting for its surface to be rubberized later this week — with the track to be closed to the public for a minimum of a week once that process begins.
The new track replaces what was an existing six-lane, crushed-stone track that had been reduced by wear and tear over the years to 4½ lanes of mud or hard-packed dirt, depending on the season.
As a result, despite the popularity of its track and field programs, the high school hasn’t hosted an outdoor meet for three decades.
Just beyond the track and its surrounding fencing, new bleachers are being installed on the home side of the field while final work is being done on a press box that looks out on both the football field and adjacent softball field.
A new practice field is being established next to the main field.
A new main entrance, complete with archway, will greet people who use the facility or turn out to watch Old Town athletic events.
“Compared to where we were 12 months ago it’s unbelievable,” said Old Town High School principal Scott Gordon of the privately funded project. “It’s really coming along.”
And that’s not all. New backstops featuring brick bases and netting instead of chain-link fencing are being installed at the high school baseball and softball fields, and the softball field has been re-sodded and leveled.
And what were two recreational outdoor basketball courts and two adjacent tennis courts near the school parking lot are being transformed into four tennis courts and one basketball court in conjunction with the city of Old Town.
Adding two tennis courts will allow for home meets in that sport to be held at that single site, rather than shipping some of the matches to another location in the city, Gordon said.
The project has been spearheaded by the RSU 34 Education Foundation’s Restore the Pride Committee, which has been working on planning and fundraising for the renovations for the last six years.
That ongoing effort has been supported by businesses and residents in greater Old Town in a variety of of ways, among them in-kind donation of material and labor as well as cash donations large and small.
Last weekend, for example, approximately 30 Old Town student-athletes, coaches and parents spent time tearing down the existing backstops, raking and picking up debris.
“It was just another way the community has really gotten involved with this,” said Gordon.
The timetable for the final phase of the project, the installation of a synthetic playing surface on Victory Field, will depend on the success of continuing fundraising efforts. That phase will cost an estimated $855,000.
But the work now under way should be completed in time for Old Town’s first home football game of the season, September 6 at 7 p.m. against Nokomis of Newport.
Plans are in the works to have tailgating in the parking lot before the game to celebrate all those who have donated to the effort, with a ceremony to recognize contributors also likely either just before the start of the game or at halftime.