Construction began on Phase One in December 2008 and renovated 20 acres of blighted properties. The first phase of the complex cost about $10 million and was paid for using donated funds. It included construction of a football stadium, baseball field, basketball courts, tennis courts and a walking trail. The new Portsmouth City School Administrative Office building was also included on the property, in a newly remodeled building next to the tennis courts.
Phase Two will also use donated funds, and will include areas north from Eighth Street to Ninth Street, and as far east as Findlay Street. Superintendent Scott Dutey said the school last week acquired the last of the properties it needed to begin development of Phase Two.
“It was a long process for sure, and frustrating the last several months. Some of the properties were tied up in the legal system. We had to jump through a lot of hoops, but last week we finally got to buy all of the properties that will be part of the track complex. We expect next week or so to get started on the track complex,” Dutey said.
The new track complex will be located behind the current athletic complex, across Eighth Street, which will be closed early next year. Dutey said Portsmouth City Council has approved the school’s request to close Eighth Street behind the current complex as long as the city could still have access through the complex in an emergecy. No residential properties remain on Eighth Street now that the school has purchased them all.
The new track complex will have an eight-lane running track and bleachers along the Eighth Street side. Next to the complex will be a paved concourse area with a Trojan head in the center.
“This will be kind of a focal point for the whole complex once it’s complete. There will be tiered seating around the Trojan head where folks will be able to come. We kind of foresee before a football game or before a baseball game, this will be the place to gravitate to,” Dutey said.
He said teachers can also take their students to the concourse area outside for special lessons.
The girls softball field will be built directly behind Portsmouth High School, across the road on the corner of Ninth and Waller. Those streets will not be closed.
“The track complex will come first. It’s our goal to have track itself finished and complete before the weather turns ugly in November,” Dutey said. “We’ll try to get this part finished so then when the weather breaks we can finalize things on the inside and work our way to the softball field. We want that to be a first-class facility as well.”
The completion of Phase Two will complete the entire athletic complex project. Dutey said he expect students will be able to compete on the new fields beginning next year.
“Once it’s complete, it will be second-to-none,” he said.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.