Renovations, additions in works at Wasgatt FieldIf money can be raised, all-weather track, home meets in facility's future
Rockland — Wasgatt Memorial Field, home of the Oceanside High School football team, appears to be due for a facelift, a prodedure that will include a full-scale cleanup and a significant addition in the future.
Thanks to the newly-formed Wasgatt Renovation Steering Committee, co-chaired by Greg Billingsley and Missy Stevens, plans are underway for a full-blown makeover of the facility.
The short-term plans are physical repairs and updating of the press box and bleachers, as well as general cleanup of the facility.
In the long-term, Billingsley and Stevens hope to have the fencing around Wasgatt Field replaced as well as the installation of a new all-weather outdoor track.
The new track will take roughly five years to come to fruition, Billingsley said.
"That's the ultimate goal at the end of the day," he said.
Preliminary estimates for the full project are roughly $450,000, with the track costing roughly $300,000.
The school's outdoor track, which surrounds the football field, has not been used for a track meet since the 1980s, when the school was still Rockland District High School. The track would be a four-lane track, which is standard for schools looking to host track meets.
The goal is to have all projects, short of the fence and the track, completed before Oceanside's first home football game Friday, Aug. 31.
The sports facility on Thomaston Street in Rockland is named after Wesley N. Wasgatt, a local physician who, for years, worked the sideline at Tiger football games. Wasgatt lived 1911 to 1979.
Funding for the project will be through donations, not through the RSU 13 athletic budget or the all-sports boosters club, Billingsley said.
The group changed its bylaws to incorporate a facilities capability and can now invoke its 501c3 (non-profit) charity status to raise funds.
"We are an official tax available charity, so any donations that are given through the all-sports boosters, including the field contributions, are eligible [for a tax write-off]," he said.
Stevens said that with the current state of the economy, it is not feasible for residents to accept the raising of taxes to pay for such an endeavor, thus the idea of taking donations was formed.
"People I've talked to seem to really like the idea and it's come together quickly," she said.
The plan came about at a monthly meeting of the all-sports boosters, which Billingsley and Stevens are members.
"She basically said what we all were thinking, which was, 'That place is a mess and something needs to be done,' " said Billingsley. "And she is on the Gridiron Gang [football boosters] as well as the all-sports boosters so we said, 'OK we'll be there.' "
"I want to bring back that school spirit and that community pride," said Stevens. "But I also felt in order to do that, we have to take a look at out field and address some of the issues we have with it."
Both Billingsley and Stevens are parents of students in the district and hope to help make the renovations for the benefit of their children and for students down the line.
The newly-formed Wasgatt Renovation Steering Committee is an offshoot of the all-sports boosters made up of various booster members, school administrators, parents and community members.
One of the administrators on the committee is RSU 13 athletic director Jim Leonard, who called Billingsley, and the rest of the committee members, a "Godsend" for the district.
"[Billingsley] understands that making our community look nice sets the tone for everyone whether they live here or whether they come to visit," said Leonard. "And he's very kid-centric and he wants what is best for the kids. He's just amazing.
"I think it's going to help instill some pride and bring back that spirit of Friday night football when you couldn't find a place to sit because the stands were packed," said Stevens. "We're hoping we can get that excitement going so we can generate some donations from the community whether it's helping us on cleanup day or donating materials."
Already underway are some of the physical repairs to the press box such as pressure washing and painting the building, along with a handicap-accessible ramp being constructed on one side of the home bleachers.
There also is a cleanup day being planned primarily for underneath the home bleachers, while the visitor side of the football field will have new ground cover laid and have the visitor bleachers moved down to the 50-yard line.
Billingsley said the committee is in conversations with the Rockland Coast Guard to have that organization help volunteer with the work/cleanup days, scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 16 at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 19 at 1:30 p.m.
Leonard said he is excited about the prospect of the district having its own track, for what it will mean for the school and the community.
"I look at that track they installed at Medomak Valley [High School in Waldoboro] and people are over there walking on it all the time," said Leonard. "It's a community hub and that's what we envision this being."
"It's baby steps, so far, but the baby steps that have been taken have already made a big difference," said Stevens.
Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at email@example.com.