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The concession is almost complete on the NSHS football field; Ribbon cutting scheduled for August 3

NORTH SMITHFIELD – For years, school officials and parents of student athletes have wanted to see improvements to the athletic facilities at North Smithfield High School, with the addition of proper bathrooms and concession stands to the programming of match days.

Now, thanks to a collaboration between headteachers, city officials and a private developer, this long-awaited project is nearing completion, with a brand new building near the football pitch awaiting fans of the next year.

A ribbon cutting for the structure, built by North Kingstown-based Green Development, LLC, is scheduled for Wednesday, August 3. The event, which begins at 4 p.m., will include a barbecue with hot dogs and burgers for visitors, cooked, of course, on the new layouts.

City Council President John Beauregard, who first suggested including the project as part of a PILOT deal with the solar developer in 2019, met with the construction team on Friday, July 15 to settle final building details.

“He’s a builder, so I knew his costs would be a lot lower than if we went out to do it,” Beauregard said of Green’s founder Mark DePasquale.

The one-time deal between Green and the city places the construction project as an alternative to a $286,000 one-time payment, part of a tax treaty for the company’s 38-megawatt solar farm on Iron Mine Hill Road. In a deal reached as part of an approval process for the network, DePasquale agreed that he would build new bathrooms and concession stands on the land, and if the work fell short of the designated figure of 286 $000 he would cut the city a check for the rest.

But Beauregard said costs to date for the structure have cost the developer about $600,000. The biggest challenge and the cause of some delays, he noted, was the effort to obtain permits from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to tie bathrooms to the septic system, also shared with the neighboring college.

“We had to show that the system was working well below capacity,” he said.

The effort was complicated when COVID-19 hit the region in 2020, resulting not only in less use of school bathrooms as students learned from home in early system testing, but also in additional cleaning chemicals. which temporarily upset its balance, according to the chairman of the board. The construction team would ultimately have to wait for the system to normalize, which would cause multiple delays before a permit was finally issued.

In the end, Beauregard said, the current system proved more than adequate for the additional use, aided by the fact that “when there are events on the ground, there’s a good chance the ‘school is closed’.

When the group finally cuts the ribbon for the project next month, the event will mark a long-awaited victory for promoters. Beauregard noted that North Smithfield Athletic Association members Tony Guertin and Bill Nangle first asked him for the facilities in 2017.

“It wasn’t even on my radar,” Beauregard said.

That year, the board set aside $100,000 for the school project during budget season at the request of the board chair, knowing full well that it could take many years to complete. But in 2018, Beauregard lost his re-election bid, and for the council, the effort to improve sports facilities fell into disuse.

Still, he notes, the NSAA team didn’t let go.

“Tony was constantly on me until his goal became my goal,” Beauregard said.

The following year, Beauregard came before the new board – in the midst of negotiations for the massive solar farm – with the unique idea of ​​collaborating with Green. The deal was eventually approved, and in the 2020 election Beauregard regained his seat.

And in February, Green led the way on the court.

At the same time, the North Smithfield School Committee approved a plan to expand the high school athletic offering with new throwing facilities. This project, now underway, combined with the new bathrooms, will allow the school to host invitations and division meetings for the athletics program.

“With the support of the board and the administrator, we were able to make it happen,” Beauregard said.

The work was also complemented by a recently completed $1 million project to replace the athletic field and turf.

“This track is as beautiful as any track I’ve raced on,” said the chairman of the board. “They did an amazing job with it.”

In the fall, the complete set of upgraded equipment will accommodate a new group of student-athletes, who will be used not only for football and track and field, but also for soccer and lacrosse. The structure built by Green includes a new public address system for announcements previously made from the pitch and a press box just above the 35-yard line.

“It offers a very good view of the whole pitch,” Beauregard said.

The kitchen, he noted, was designed with cooking utensils on wheels, to allow food to be cooked on the building’s terrace and avoid the additional costs of extinguishing fires and ventilating the building. interior of the building.

“We save a lot of money doing it this way,” he said. “It’s very effective.”

Fridges and freezers will remain inside the structure, which is handicap accessible, and also includes facilities for men and women.

“The press box is what impressed me the most,” Beauregard said in reaction to this week’s work. “It wasn’t even something we asked for. The place is beautiful.

City administrator Paul Zwolenski said he was also happy with the result.

“The whole city will be able to benefit from it,” Zwolenski said. “I want to thank the president for his initiative on this, so that families can enjoy it while attending events on the grounds.”

Soon, Beauregard will hand over the keys to the structure to school officials, who are reportedly working on an operations and maintenance plan.

“For so many years they said it couldn’t be done,” he said. “We did it, so it’s a big deal. It worked for everyone. It is a major asset for the city. »

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