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New Haven Register (Connecticut)
DERBY — Ground likely won't be broken until January on a major-league facelift slated for the school district's athletic complex.
That's according to Superintendent of Schools Matthew Conway, who recently gave a brief update to the Board of Aldermen on the multimillion-dollar makeover.
"We expect to have shovels in the ground in January," said Conway.
Two separate committees — the Athletic Complex Building Committee and the Field House and Baseball Field Committee — have been working with two architects on the projects.
City Treasurer Keith McLiverty, chairman of the Athletic Complex Building Committee, said the magnitude of the projects, from the design process to acquiring the necessary approvals from land-use boards, takes time.
"This is the type of project where the up-front work, such as design and site plans, take longer than one would expect," said McLiverty.
McLiverty said once a Request for Quotes goes out to select contractors to put the designs in motion, the projects will move ahead more quickly.
"We are balancing the privately funded project pace with the pace of the publicly funded project," McLiverty said. "(The goal is) keeping both trains moving at the same speed to arrive at the station at the same end date. ... The coordination is a methodical process."
New Britain firm Kaestle Boos Associates Inc., the successful designer behind the minor league stadium that formerly housed the New Britain Rock Cats, is onboard as project manager, overseeing the design and construction of an artificial turf football field, multi-purpose field and eight-lane rubberized track at the Leo F. Ryan Sports Complex on Chatfield Street.
Derby received $2.9 million in funding from the state Bond Commission for that project.
A second architect, Peter de Bretteville of Hamden, is working with the Field House and Baseball Field Committee in designing and overseeing construction of another major component of the overall makeover, though it's being treated as a separate project.
A new baseball field and state-of-the-art fieldhouse is being privately funded thanks to a $4 million donation from Joan Payden, founder, CEO and president of Los Angeles-based international investment firm Payden & Rygel. Payden made the donation in memory of her father, J.R. Payden, valedictorian of the DHS class of 1915, who was a fighter pilot for the Royal Flying Corps in England.
Payden hand-picked de Bretteville, who boasts more than 40 years' experience, including Athens College in Greece, to design the baseball field/fieldhouse project.
The existing high school baseball field, which is not regulation size, must be relocated to make way for the artificial turf field and track. The field is currently located next to the football field at the Ryan Complex and is slated to be relocated where the existing girls' softball field is. The softball field is slated to move nearby to either the high school campus on Nutmeg Avenue near the existing Little League field or near the new fake turf field.
Both school and city officials have assured concerned coaches, athletes, parents and others that the renovations and relocations, while it will require some temporary shuffling, will not hurt any of the existing sports programs.
Conway said Derby football games still will be played in neighboring Shelton, thanks to an arrangement made there, due to pending demolition of the existing fieldhouse, likely to happen during football season.
"The goal is to bring back football in the fall of 2018 on our brand new field," said Conway.
Both building committees are slated to hold a joint meeting at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 8 at Derby Middle School.
Credit: By Jean Falbo-Sosnovich, [email protected]
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