Just as the school year was ending, work was beginning on the football field and stands at Cranston High School West.
Football players, staff and students who might normally be sleeping in were arriving at the field at 8 a.m. to help members of the Cranston High School West Alumni Association remove bolts and wooden bleachers, one at a time, from row after row of old seating in order to make way for the new, extended seating for the stadium.
The project is another public-private partnership between the city and various community organizations and businesses that the Alumni Association and its president, David C. DiMaio, have spearheaded. The first such project was the renovation of the Cranston West Alumni Auditorium.
DiMaio said he is grateful to those who have helped to jumpstart the field project, and he looks forward to more community members jumping on board as the project moves along. The Alumni Association’s board also includes Karen Casale, Laurie Manni, Amy Ricci, Adam Lupino, Erica Caligiuri, Justin Erickson and Ed Brady.
“This is another grassroots project that brings the community and the city of Cranston together,” DiMaio said. “These are the types of things that get done with a public-private partnership. The city prospers and the community benefits.”
Fundraising has already begun for the project with engraved bricks being sold for the pavilion area of the stadium. A second fundraiser, a Funny4Funds event, is being planned for Aug. 23 at the Cranston Country Club.
“Bill Simas and Mike Murray are slated to be part of that event,” Caligiuri said. “There will be three comedians, food, a cash bar, raffles and a silent auction, with tickets available for sale on our website.”
The project is moving right along, and according to Caligiuri, the new bleachers will be in place soon and the old sprinkler system will be coming out.
“It’s exciting to see things happening on the field now, to see it all starting to come together,” Cranston West football coach Tom Milewski said.
DiMaio said he is grateful to Milewski and his team for their hard work on the demolition of the bleachers at the stadium.
“We are so grateful to coach and his team for their support, and we welcome any other sports teams who want to help, to reach out and spread the word,” he said.
The team is just one group that has been supporting the project, according to Caligiuri.
“There are lots of people from our community reaching out to see how they can help, volunteer, or donate for the project,” she said. “I grew up on this field as a member of the marching band and it was one of my favorite parts of my life. It’s exciting to me that these kids will be getting that same feeling I had at all of the home games.”
The project will include a new press box, handicap seating, larger bathrooms and a new snack bar. The Alumni Association is raising the money for the press box, new bleachers and the pavilion area behind the press box. Plans call for the city of Cranston to fund the synthetic turf field, lights and new scoreboard.
Many from the community have donated time, materials and services, and both DiMaio and Caligiuri emphasized that a project such as this one would not be possible without their assistance.
“We have so many people to thank for their involvement in this project already,” Caligiuri said. “The partnerships include Mike Faria, Brooke van Eeghen of Van Eeghen’s Pharmacy and the van Eeghen family, Vinny Rossi at Rossi Electric, Pat Czerwein at Universal Excavating, Justin Erickson and Ed Brady from the Thirsty Beaver, Justin Corso of Maplewood Landscaping, Albert DeRobbio of Capital City Construction and Eric Zuena of ZDS Architecture.”
According to DiMaio, donations and support have also come in from House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, state Reps. Stephen Ucci, Chris Millea, Charlene Lima and Robert Jacquard and state Sens. Hanna Gallo and Frank Lombardi.
“This project would also not be where it is today without the support and direction of Parks and Recreation Director Tony Liberatore and his team, Cranston City Council President Mike Farina and the Cranston City Council and Mayor Allan Fung,” DiMaio added.
With the project underway, DiMaio said there is still a need for businesses to donate goods and services such as plumbing fixtures, cement, construction supplies, doors for the press box, cinder blocks and wood.
The next meeting of the Alumni Association will take place at the Pastore Youth Center, 155 Gansett Ave., at 6:30 p.m. on July 24. Those seeking to be involved in any way are welcome to attend. For more information, contact DiMaio at 588-1313 or
firstname.lastname@example.org or Caligiuri at email@example.com.
To purchase a brick, visit cranstonwestalumniassociation.org/bringing-our-home-field-back-to-life.