Elected officials last week announced plans for a $10 million facelift — highlighted by the installation of a grass pitch — at the sports fields at Harry S. Truman High School in the Baychester section of the Bronx.
On May 26, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Assembly Education Committee Chairman Michael Benedetto and Council Member Kevin Riley joined school officials where they unveiled funding that would convert the current pitch into a grass surface, which will be used for football, soccer, flag football, softball. and baseball. Surface replacement and track improvements, which will include a new space for discus and javelin events, will then enable the school to host officially sanctioned track competitions.
The project will also include upgrades to the bleachers, scoreboard and score box, light and concession stand, and additional storage space. This investment will bring the facilities into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The City Council has committed $6.7 million and the State Assembly has allocated $3.3 million to upgrade outdoor sports facilities.
“The New York State Assembly has fought tirelessly for investments in education,” Heastie said. “Investments in our classrooms are essential to the success of our students, but funding other school facilities is also essential. Participation in extracurricular activities is proven to have a positive impact on student achievement.
Although Heastie does not represent the Baychester area, he is an alumnus of the school and felt compelled to help when his government colleagues reached out. Courts he once played on as a kid, the funding was even more meaningful to him, Heastie said. However, he attributed the planned renovations to Riley and Benedetto.
“Co-op City means a lot to me,” Heastie said. “Our students deserve top-notch facilities.”
Truman High School head football coach John Shepherd called the fields his second home. Shepherd told the Bronx Times that the renovations are long overdue and will help athletes for years to come.
The coach said the renovations will allow teams easier access to pitches as there is often not enough space for teams to train and/or play matches at the same time. He added that the pitches are in poor condition when the weather is bad and the new grass pitch will make things safer for the athletes.
“This is truly an iconic day in both Truman’s athletic history and academic history,” Shepherd said. “We know that students who are successful in sports are usually held to a higher level of responsibility, which allows them to perform better in the classroom. The lessons we learn in the field also translate into the classroom.
Truman football player Jordan Paulino, a junior, knows he likely won’t play on the renovated fields until after he graduates, but said they will impact generations of Truman athletes.
“Having land and a place where we can build a base for a program will help us,” he said. “As Truman Mustang, this area will mean a lot to us.”
Renovations are expected to begin this fall and be completed in 2023.
Contact Jason Cohen at email@example.com or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes