With the sun slowly descending behind the trees and darkness falling, the new 70-foot-tall stadium lights overlooking the Hampton Bays High School football field flickered on for the first time during an official game at approximately 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, September 10.
The junior varsity Baymen would go on to defeat their counterparts from Elwood/John Glenn, 19-7, though the biggest winners that evening were the students and community residents who will benefit from the outdoor lights, not to mention the synthetic athletic turf that now lines the field and the new digital scoreboard that sits next to the southern end zone, for years to come.
The first leg of upgrades and renovations at Hampton Bays are part of the district’s $16.8 million bond project approved by voters last fall and put into motion this summer. Although most of the heavy construction was finished prior to the first day of school on September 9, inclement weather pushed the official completion dates back a few weeks, primarily because some of the projects still needed to undergo final inspections, explained district business administrator Larry Luce.
Phase one of the project, which cost the district $2.9 million, also included the construction of multipurpose outdoor courts at the district’s high and elementary schools, and extending the chimney and replacing the stucco on the elementary school. Additionally, the work called for the installation of new floors and walls at the high school, as well as the removal of asbestos tiles from 18 rooms throughout the building, which had been part of an ongoing remediation project that is now finished. Hampton Bays Schools Superintendent Lars Clemensen explained the tiles had been installed during the construction of the high school in 1971, noting that their removal was done as a preventative measure.
“I’m excited about these projects,” Mr. Clemensen said about the projects. “They’re all helping us improve the educational experience here. I’m excited about the pace at which we’re moving.”
He wrote in an email that phase one cost almost 20 percent less than what the district initially projected because of a reduced cost in labor and materials.
Hampton Bays Athletic Director Drew Walker said the future additions to the football field, which include a new concession stand, grandstands and restrooms—all part of a later stage in the project—will make the district’s athletic programs stand out among its competitors.
“It’s gonna be a first-rate facility that’s available to our students and our community,” he said. “I feel like our kids are already walking a little taller because they take pride in the facility.”
Mr. Walker said the upgrades will also save the district money in the long run in terms of field maintenance and the replacement of light bulbs for the old scoreboard, which had been used for 40 years before being replaced by the new LED board.
In addition to the football teams, the turf field will be used by the boys and girls soccer, field hockey, and boys and girls lacrosse teams, as well as physical education classes, according to Mr. Walker. The athletic courts at the high and elementary schools also will be open to the public after school and until dusk, so long as one of the school’s teams isn’t using them.
The next phase of the project is already underway with a boiler retrofitting in the high school that is running about a week ahead of schedule, Mr. Luce said. The installation of energy saving windows is also taking place at the high school and that work is expected to run into November.
Other major components of the project to be completed next summer include the construction of a cafeteria/gymnasium/auditorium at the elementary school, and renovating art and science rooms, installing a greenhouse and opening a new home and careers classroom at the high school.
The construction of a new entrance to the high school was also supposed to be incorporated into the third and final phrase of work. But because of other projects scheduled for the same time—namely classroom renovations—the entryway work is now expected to be pushed back into a new fourth phase, according to Mr. Luce.