Sports activities are a no-go this summer because of the $5.4 million project.
HOPEWELL — Athletic fields at Finger Lakes Community College will be closing next month as a major project gets underway to install multiuse synthetic turf fields and stormwater management facilities.
The Ontario County Board of Supervisors last Thursday conducted a public hearing and then granted final approval for the project to proceed.
Plans include a new softball field and a multiuse field for baseball, soccer and lacrosse, along with lighting, to replace inadequate facilities.
“I think FLCC, as a college, is very excited to finally get to the point of construction,” said Cathy Ahern, the college's director of facilities and grounds. “It's been a dream for a long time.”
Ontario County sponsors the college, which also is affiliated with the State University of New York.
A preconstruction meeting is planned May 1 with the selected contractors to outline the work schedule, Ahern said.
Supervisors accepted the low bids of $4.4 million for the site work and $1.05 million for the electrical work from Adhan Piping Co. Inc. of Cortland and Nelcorp Electrical Contracting Corp. of Endwell, Broome County. Ahern said they were reviewed in detail.
The project will be funded with a 50 percent local match and 50 percent state match. The local portion of $2.7 million will include $1.95 million from the FLCC Association Inc.; $500,000 from the FLCC Student Corp.; and up to $250,000 from the FLCC Foundation; according to the resolution.
Ahern said construction will begin in May with most of the work expected to be done by the end of the year. Final completion is set for Feb. 1, 2019.
“All sports activities at the fields this summer are canceled, which would not only be Finger Lakes Community College, but the community,” said Ahern, noting the athletics department is working with the community to find alternate local fields. “This fall, any intercollegiate activity is going to be someplace else."
Bob Lowden, director of athletics, said two or three May baseball games may have to be moved. He said he has been in contact with Bob Ohmann, owner of the Geneva Red Wings and Newark Pilots, part of the Perfect Games Collegiate Baseball League, about using McDonough and Colburn parks.
Lowden said the softball field will not be affected, as the intent is to maintain a natural turf for that facility.
“The big challenge will be in the fall for our soccer teams to find venues for their games,” Lowden said, noting the entire men's and women's fall soccer home games — typically about 10 or 11 each — will have to be moved, but they are generally played back to back on the same dates.
He said the college will try to play as many home games as possible at Canandaigua Academy. Lacrosse will not be a problem as its season has ended and the new facilities should be ready by the time it resumes next February.
Teams have had to travel throughout the years, though, when the natural fields were too saturated for use, a problem that will be solved with inclusion of the new drainage system.
Lowden said he and his predecessor, Dennis “Putt” Moore, advocated for new fields for many years. Jim Fisher, senior vice president of administration and finance, likes to tell a story about Lowden and Moore being in his office pitching the idea on one of his first days on the job in spring 2011, Lowden said.
“He does get a lot of credit for this, and our current president, Dr. (Robert) Nye,” Lowden said. “They worked extremely hard on this project.”
The improvements are expected to help with recruitment, as well. Lowden noted FLCC already has retention and completion rates higher than the general population.
“If we could add additional sports and increase our roster size, then we can aid the college in the mission of having a higher retention rate and higher completion rate for our students,” he said, noting the fields will be available for community use too.
“I think it's going to be a great thing for the college, our students and our student athletes,” Lowden said. “It will be a nice little showcase for our admissions when they're doing campus tours. It's going to be a great thing for our college community, as well as the community at large. I still can't believe it. I still think I'm dreaming that this is happening.”
Bids for the project were opened in March, after which the college and county recommended the low bidders be approved. Plans were then adopted by the Board of Supervisors' Public Works Committee on April 9 after an interview with the low bidders, followed by approval of the Ways and Means Committee on April 11.
The project was designed by Appel Osborn Landscape Architecture of Syracuse, which also designed the fairly new athletic fields at Canandaigua and several others throughout the area.
Bids by the numbers
Adhan Piping Co. Inc., $4,387,963
DiFiore Construction Inc., $4,707,000
Smith Site Development Inc., $5,075,000
Villager Construction Inc., $5,368,333
Nelcorp Electrical Contracting Corp. $1.052,350
Schuler-Hass Electric Corp. $1,355,700