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Syd Thrift Athletic Complex to begin new era for MHS sports

The Syd Thrift Athletic Complex at Middlesex High School is nearing completion. A grand opening ceremony will be held on Friday, September 5, before the first home football game. Above is the view looking from the baseball field bleachers, and includes the track, main spectator entrance (at right) and the football stands. (Photo by Tom Chillemi)

by Tom Chillemi

In just under nine months the Syd Thrift Athletic Complex (STAC) has risen from the former athletic fields at Middlesex High School (MHS) in Saluda.

“It’s going to be head and shoulders above what we had,” said John Fleet, a board member of Friends of Middlesex County Public Schools. The “Friends” have been a proponent and fund-raising organization for the project.

The MHS athletic facilities had deteriorated over time. “Some were 50 years old,” noted Fleet.

Time had taken its toll—the lighting system needed upgrading, the baseball field had not been used for several years, there was no usable track, and there were safety concerns.

Fleet explained that the original proposal for the new sports complex was more than $5 million, but the plans were refined to cut costs to $3.5 million. “We feel the county got value for a much-needed project,” he said.

Fleet added that if the $3.5 million cost is spread over 30 to 50 years of useful life, “the cost is reasonable.”

Fleet pointed out the county borrowed money for the facility at the lowest interest rate in 50 years. The project received 11 contract bids, six of which were within the range of $200,000 of each other. In fact, two bids were within $20,000 of each other. “To me, that validated the bidding process,” and how carefully the Friends examined the bidding process, he said.

Fleet said a 3-year fund-raising campaign is ongoing by the Friends of Middlesex County Public Schools, a 501(c)(3) corporation. The goal is $600,000. The Friends are less than $200,000 short of that goal.

“The Friends group has made every effort to bring this much-needed facility to the county and have truly tried to make it a public-private partnership that works,” said Fleet. “Building toward generations to come can only make Middlesex a better place to live, grow, work or retire.”

The facility also will be open for use by adults, and a scheduling process will be set up, Fleet added.

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 05.28.2014

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