Seekonk Public Schools Cuts Ribbon on New Connolly Field Complex at Seekonk High School
Seekonk -- Superintendent Dr. Rich Drolet is pleased to announce that the Seekonk Public Schools welcomed students, staff, honored guests and members of the community to the grand opening of the new Connolly Field and Mooney Track at Seekonk High School last week.
The ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Connolly Turf Field and Mooney Track took place Thursday, Sept. 1 to correspond with the first day of school. The ribbon was cut by captains from several SHS fall athletic teams.
Those in attendance were able to tour the new facility, which in addition to a new turf field also includes a modern track and new press box.
Prior to the construction of the new field complex, SHS student athletes had limited opportunities to access the field and when they did use it the surface was often muddy, in poor shape, and sometimes deemed unsafe. Most teams needed to take a 10-minute bus ride to play at the Cole Street fields in the south end of town or at other fields in the area.
“I have been involved in advocating for this project since I first arrived here in Seekonk in the summer of 2018,” Superintendent Drolet said. “In fact, when I first started here as Superintendent of Schools the thing I received the most complaints about was the condition of our high school grass field.”
With the School Committee’s support, the district embarked on a four-year endeavor to have discussions, develop frequently asked questions about the need for a new track and turf field, present at Town Meetings, and eventually gain approval from the Town at the 2019 Fall Town Meeting for $200,000 for design and engineering services.
The Turf Field and Track Committee was then formed with the help of Town Moderator Peter Hoogerzeil, and seven volunteers composed of parents, coaches, a school committee member and people with experience in construction and sports management joined.
With support from the Finance Committee, Board of Selectmen and Capital Improvement Committee, the Turf Field and Track Committee recommended the bid for the project be awarded before the Board of Selectmen to Huntress Sports, which the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved.
Chris Huntress from Huntress Sports presented at the 2020 Fall Town Meeting (held in March 2021 due to a delay resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic), and at the 2021 Spring Town Meeting the motion to appropriate $2.7 million passed by a two-thirds majority vote. Subsequently with the Town of Seekonk’s support by way of a special election ballot vote for a debt exclusion, the project continued.
In October 2021 the Turf Field and Track Committee recommended the construction bid award to Argus Construction, which the Board of Selectmen voted to approve. Argus quickly mobilized last November and construction began, and was completed earlier this summer.
The complex will be home to SHS' football team, soccer teams, field hockey team, lacrosse teams, track and field teams, cheerleading team, as well as the SHS marching band.
“This critical support from the Town has enabled our school district to provide this top-notch track and turf field for our Seekonk student-athletes and community for many years to come,” Superintendent Drolet said.
Seekonk High School Principal Dr. Bill Whalen also spoke at last week’s ribbon cutting ceremony, as did Turf Field and Track Committee Chairman Stephen Prew.
"What I am most excited about is the fact that now we can include more of our athletic teams participating in competition on campus, as well as other youth teams in the community, without worrying about excessive wear on the field," Dr. Whalen said. "This new field opens a world of opportunity for our teams as they will have increased play time on campus for not only games but also practices, and have a safer playing surface. For a school and district that has a tremendous amount of school pride, and with much of that focused on our athletic teams, this new field and track will serve as a centerpiece of our campus."
Dr. Whalen added that he has spoken to many alumni from SHS who, while never having the chance to play on such a field, are thrilled that current and future student-athletes will benefit from such a modern complex.
The Seekonk Public Schools wishes to thank the following for contributing to the successful completion of the Connolly Turf Field and Mooney Track:
School Committee Chair Erin Brouillette and all members of the School Committee, Seekonk Town Administrator Shawn Cadime, Board of Selectmen Chair Justin Sullivan and all members of the Board of Selectmen, Seekonk Public Schools Athletic Director John Moran, Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds Jim Roy, legendary coach Frank Mooney,
Representative Steven Howitt, the Seekonk Finance Committee, Seekonk Town Clerk Florice Craig and Assistant Town Clerk Lorraine Sorel, Police Chief Dean Isabella and Deputy Police Chief David Enos, Chris Huntress from Huntress Sports, and the Argus Construction Group.
The district also recognizes the members of the Turf Field and Track Committee, including Chair Stephen Prew, Vice Chair Justin Terrien, and members Bart Lush, Joe Mello, Bubba Petersen, Victor Pereira and Noah Escaler.
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