AMSTERDAM — Work on the renovation of the turf field at Wilbur H. Lynch Literacy Academy and the Four Diamonds complex across the street from the school are set to begin in the coming days as Montgomery County enters the phased reopening from COVID-19 shutdowns.
Greater Amsterdam School District athletic director Steve Nolan said in a phone interview Wednesday that crews should start to arrive on site Friday to begin the work, using the Lynch tennis and basketball courts as the drop zone for the construction equipment.
“They’re going to start dismantling the concession stand and pulling up the turf,” Nolan said, “and that’ll carry on through the summer.”
The work on Lynch Literacy Academy is the fifth phase of a $48.9 million capital project that was approved by voters in March 2016. In addition to the improvements to the athletic complex, work at Lynch will include air conditioning for the entire building, replacing lighting controls in the auditorium and a new guidance suite.
Work was originally scheduled to get underway at the start of the spring, but was put on pause by shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the Mohawk Valley set to enter Phase 1 of reopening on Friday, construction can begin — though Nolan said things will likely go slowly at first, with limited crews and strict social distancing observed.
“In this first phase, it’s going to be something where there’s not a lot of guys on site, because it doesn’t take a lot of guys to do what they’re doing,” Nolan said. “They’ll be spaced out accordingly, and being that it’s outside, they’re in the fresh air.”
When completed, the Lynch stadium will feature a brand-new artificial turf field, replacing the outdated, worn surface that has been in place since the facility changed from grass to turf in 2004. There will also be bleachers installed in the concrete seating area on the home sideline, a blacktop walkway around the entire facility, improved handicapped accessibility and a new multi-purpose facility that will include new concession and bathroom facilities.
“It’ll be very appealing to the eye,” Nolan said. “It’ll accommodate all the population — much more handicapped accessible, much more convenient for everyone.”
The basketball and tennis courts adjacent to the field will also be completely resurfaced.
Across the street, the Four Diamonds complex will be renovated to include chain-link dugouts, with all four fields being refurbished so that four games can be hosted at once.
“It will be four diamonds again,” Nolan said. “It’ll be a place the kids can really be proud of to use for phys ed, for sports, and for the community use out of it.”
The work at Four Diamonds was initially scheduled to start at a later stage of the project, but Nolan said that as an outdoor project, it’s easier to start under the current social distancing conditions than some of the indoor work at Lynch.
While construction is starting more than a month later than originally planned, it won’t affect the timeline for when Amsterdam teams will be able to compete on the new field. Work was already scheduled to go through the entire fall season, with games not taking place at Lynch until spring 2021.
“The athletic timetable is basically right on schedule,” Nolan said. “I was not anticipating the work on Four Diamonds being done as soon as it’s being done, but with the way things are, it makes more sense to do that outdoor work and get that done. The city was not using those fields, because of the pandemic, so it’s a perfect opportunity.”
While the field won’t be available in the fall, a more detailed plan has been established for where Amsterdam’s fall teams will play in 2020 — providing schools reopen and sports get started again.
Amsterdam varsity football has three scheduled home games on its 2020 schedule. The first is the season-opener Sept. 11 against Broadalbin-Perth, which will be played at Patriot Field in Broadalbin. The Rams’ other two home dates — Oct. 8 against Troy and Oct. 15 against La Salle — will both be played on Friday nights at Husky Field in Gloversville, and will serve as Amsterdam’s homecoming and senior night games.
“Broadalbin would’ve let us use their field for whenever we wanted to, but the two nights that we have home games, they’re also playing at home — and then you’ve got to work around people’s soccer schedules, because they shouldn’t make adjustments for us,” Nolan said. “Gloversville happened to be open those two nights, and [athletic director] Mike DeMagistris just said, ‘We could make it work,’ so we did that.”
Nolan said Amsterdam’s JV football team will likely play its full schedule on the road, while the modified teams could use the practice field at the high school for some games. As for boys’ and girls’ soccer, the district is planning to use the field at the high school that has traditionally hosted the Amsterdam Youth Soccer Club as a varsity field, with the two adjacent practice fields available to host JV and modified games.
"We're just hoping," Nolan said, "to do something in the fall."
Reach Adam Shinder at [email protected] or @Adam_Shinder on Twitter.