By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – With the fall scholastic season on the horizon, would the newly acquired lights on the Bristol Eastern football field be installed and ready to go for game time?
With a new drive to raise $40,000 for the installation of the lights in July, the plan was a go and by mid-August, those fixtures were finally installed on the campus.
It was a monumental achievement for the Lancers’ students, alumni and athletes, completing phase one of an even bigger project – an all weather field that everyone could use in Bristol.
But just getting the lights up was a big deal and a tremendous boon for the school as nighttime games will soon become the norm at Bristol Eastern.
The Bristol Observer caught up with one of the projects lead anchors, Chris D’Amato, and he shined a little light on the near completion of the lighting project.
Bristol Observer: How long did it actually take for the poles to go into the ground? Was it an all day process, was it a multiple day process…
Chris D’Amato: The guys that did the drilling were there for four days. So it took two days to put the actual (pole) bases in and they had to set. And then two days to put the poles in.
Bristol Observer: For those people who haven’t been down to Bristol Eastern yet, are the lights all on one side of the field?
Chris D’Amato: No. There two poles on one side, two on the other side that are spread around the field mathematically.
Bristol Observer: So, are those lights in operation now or is there more that needs to be done in order to get them in working order?
Chris D’Amato: We have to do a little bit more work to get them going. Yes, they’re in the ground but the wiring is not hooked up yet. We have to have CL&P hook up the (power) on the street to the actual control panel box that was going in (last Thursday). There still a few steps that have to be taken before they could be turned on.
Bristol Observer: Before Rep. Christopher Wright came in and gave the project some extra cash, it looked like you were well on your way to your fundraising goal for installation…everybody chipped in enough. So, is some of that (grant) money going to some other phase of the project?
Chris D’Amato: As of right now, the state money has not come in yet. We’re basically considering what we have right now, what was raised at the time that will secure everything being done. We’ll have to determine what will happen with the state money. The state money will be used just for the lights so if we can use the money just for the lights, we can pay all those bills and potentially, go on to step two, the second phase of the project which would be(to build) the press box.
Bristol Observer: Any ETA on a press box or is there going to be more fundraising for that phase of the project?
Chris D’Amato: We’re in the process right now of getting permits pulled to actually build one. We have a design already from a local firm, an alumnus, who designed it for us – again, a donation of designing it for us at no cost. We’re trying to scramble because time is of the essence. We’re very cautiously optimistic that we can get it in time but if we don’t get it in time, then we’ll just make adjustments to actually use the lights and play under the lights.
Bristol Observer: Being one of the driving forces on this project and making the lights at Bristol Eastern a reality, how cool is it to actually have those lights in the ground now through all your hard work and effort?
Chris D’Amato: To see that first pole being raised to actually be put on the pier, it was just (awesome. Bristol Eastern football coach Mike) Archangelo and I were watching the thing go up and it was just (a combination) of four years of a lot of work. But, there’s a lot to still do to make it an actual venue where you can start holding all types of events which is ultimately what we want to do.