Eastern inaugurates a new field | News

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GREENTOWN — A few ceremonial shovelfuls on Tuesday evening kicked off the construction phase of a new $20 million sports complex project in Eastern.

School officials and board members, along with members of the contractor group overseeing the project, were on hand for a brief groundbreaking ceremony outside the secondary school.

The ceremony marks the start of construction after many months of meetings, paperwork, legal requirements, planning and design.

Work should begin in the days and weeks to come on a new pavilion, which will be built in front of the school. The heavy machinery is now on site and the fence walls of the construction area and the parking lot, where the materials will remain while the area is prepared.

“Now the cool stuff starts with the actual construction,” said Rob Young, vice president of business development for Fort Wayne-based contractor Hagerman, who is leading the project.

The sports facility will include three basketball courts, a three-lane track and locker rooms. Superintendent Keith Richie said the pavilion is for the community as well as the students.

“We will try to open it up to our community,” he said.

Other facets of the project include a near overhaul of the swimming pool. An observation deck will be built above the pool for spectators. The objective is to make the space around the pool less cramped.

“We urgently need updates to our athletic facilities,” Richie said. “I’ve been here 20 years putting bandages on the pool.”

The pool should be drained on Monday. The 200,000 gallons of water will be dechlorinated before being sent to the city’s water treatment plant.

Young said work on the pool is expected to be completed Oct. 7. The pool must be completed before the start of the next swimming season.

Underground foundation work will first take place for the fieldhouse, which will “begin to emerge from the ground” in mid-April, Young said.

Work is scheduled to begin March 28 at the sports complex at the southeast end of town. The 40-acre ground currently hosts football matches.

The next wave of development will be new tennis courts, an athletic support building for storage, changing rooms and concessions and another parking lot.

The project is financed through debt replacement, that is, when new debt is contracted when old debt needs to be repaid. This keeps the tax rate the same, which means Greentown residents won’t see an increase in their taxes.

Young said at Tuesday’s school board meeting that the majority of the project could be completed by February 2023, which is a bit ahead of schedule.

The off-campus sports venue will be further developed in future years with the addition of new baseball and softball fields. These are however not included in this project.

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