WOONSOCKET – When students at the high school walk into the school’s gym when the new school year begins on Wednesday they may not believe their eyes.
The gym floor was refinished this summer and looks as shiny and new as it did when the school was opened in 1972.
School Department Facilities Director Peter Fontaine said the work was part of several improvement projects completed at local schools over the summer and will be eligible for 81 percent state aid reimbursements.
The gym roof was also fixed during the summer and longstanding leak problems corrected as well, according to Fontaine.
“We had some water damage occurring because of a roof drain problem, and that was fixed as part of the work,” he said.
The gym floor project was completed by Gymnasium Floor Resurfacing of Randolph, Mass., the low bidder on the work, at a cost of $27,300.
The gym roof replacement was included in a $283,000 contract with Patrick McKenna Co. of Pawtucket for the high school work and also the roof at Bernon Heights Elementary School. McKenna also was low bidder, Fontaine said.
The company not only put on a new membrane-roof on the gym, but also fixed all the drain problems and covered over some old vent ports that had been prone to leaking.
The flooring company sanded off the old layers of polyurethane on gym’s hardwood floor and replaced wood where it was too damaged to refinish. The company also painted new floor decorations and playing court lines on the floor before the finish was applied.
“It was quite a project and took five weeks to complete,” Fontaine said. The end result, however, was worth the wait, he added. “I think the company did a great job, much better than I anticipated,” he said.
Athletic Director George Nasuti was also impressed with the work and sees the refurbishment of the gym floor as a first step in a five-year plan he is working on to make a number other improvements to the school department athletic facilities.
“I want to make this the kickoff of our campaign to create “curb appeal,” for our local facilities,” Nasuti said.
The funding for the gym floor became available when a planned improvement at one of the elementary schools could not be done this year and will free up some athletic funding for additional projects, he explained.
The athletic department will also be applying for grants to fund some of the improvements and doing fundraising with events such as the Villa Novan 5K Road Race, scheduled for Sept. 22 and sponsored by The Gym on Diamond Hill Road.
“We want to create a better way to improve our facilities,” Nasuti said while explaining the mix of fundraising and grant funding he hopes to put behind the project.
The first projects on the improvement list could make use of some local elbow grease and volunteer work for the clean up and repair of the running course in Cass Park that has long been used by the high school’s Cross Country team. Nasuti wants to lay out an improved 5K course that will fix any eroded or washed out areas on the route and make it more attractive to public use in addition to the cross country events held there.
Another phase would be needed improvements at Barry Field, such as resurfacing the school’s soccer and baseball fields.
Those areas of the Smithfield Road athletic complex have not received major improvement work in years, and the fund-raising campaign and grant applications planned by Nasuti could result in a significant upgrade to Barry Field over a period of years.
The athletic department recently received a donation of new Lifecycles and treadmills and other equipment from Thundermist Health Care that will be used in a rehab of the high school weight room under another example of what Nasuti hopes to complete with the fundraising effort.
The gym floor improvement is the most visible of the project at the moment and will help create interest in the athletic department moving forward with its “Curb Appeal” campaign, according to Nasuti.
“It is a better way to improve our facilities because the work will be coming from a combination of the capital improvement process, grant funding and community support,” he said.
The work, such as the new gym floor, also helps students appreciate the facility they have in their school, Nasuti said.
“We have something to be proud of and everyone needs to take care of it,” he said.