By DAVID PEPIN
While the athletic fields at East Greenwich High School have received a major facelift the bad two years, the dugouts on the baseball diamonds have remained lingering blemishes.
John Mahoney and the Diamond Baseball Club, a group of baseball team parents and boosters, are hoping to change that.
Mahoney briefed the School Committee Tuesday night on his group’s plans to improve the dugouts, lengthening them and building cinderblock structures and roofs. The current dugouts offer a fence, a bench and little else, or as Mahoney put it, “a metal cage.”
“It’s a great facility, but these dugouts don’t fit the bill right now,” he said.
Without taking a formal vote, the committee gave its blessing to the plan. Chairwoman Deidre Gifford referred Mahoney to the Fields Committee, which Superintendent Victor Mercurio plans to convene next month to review plans for the dugout construction with an eye toward School Committee approval at its Aug. 16 meeting.
Mahoney said if the go-ahead is given then and details such as a construction plan and liability insurance are finalized, he and a group of parents can have the varsity field dugouts built by the beginning of November. He said they have raised $2,500 already, with each dugout’s cost estimated between $4-5,000.
Gifford said use of the town impact fee fund, which is covering the cost of the new concession stand being built at the football field, is also a possibility.
The new dugouts are necessary for safety reasons, he said – from disturbances both climatological and parental.
“There’s no privacy in these dugouts for the coach to talk to a player. The first game we were able to use the varsity field last year, we had a situation where a parent got into it with a coach and the police had to be called,” said Mahoney.
Another reason covered dugouts are needed, he said, is the baseball fields’ location, about a quarter-mile from the school building.
“With lightning, there’s nowhere to go. At least the visiting team can take shelter in its bus,” Mahoney said.
The dugouts would also be lengthened, with the current concrete pad extended from 33 to 48 feet, and would also include storage room for equipment.
Eventually, Mahoney hopes to have dugouts completed for the two baseball fields and move on to the girls’ softball fields, which aren’t as pressing a need because they are located closer to the school, he said.
The School Committee also received an update from Mercurio on the memo of understanding he is negotiating with Town Manager William Sequino Jr. and Parks and Recreation Director Kathy Bradley regarding school athletic fields and the division of responsibility between the school district and town for maintenance and costs.
In other business, the committee:
* Received an estimate from Maryann Crawford, school finance director, that it will end fiscal 2011 with an approximately $200-250,000 surplus. She said the district underspent by approximately $200,000, with the remainder coming from increases in tuition from students outside the district and higher interest income from the Hanaford Trust Fund.
* Approved a contract for newly appointed East Greenwich High School Principal Michael Podraza.
* Rejected, on a 3-3 vote, the reappointment of all fall athletic coaches pending review of their resumes and certifications.