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Athletes, Coaches at Connecticut's Torrington High Accepting of $179M Building Project

Thu April 13, 2023 - Northeast Edition
Torrington Register Citizen & CEG


The new school will have separate entrances and wings for its three-story middle school and a four-story high school connected by common facilities at the main level. (Rendering courtesy of the Torrington Building Committee)
The new school will have separate entrances and wings for its three-story middle school and a four-story high school connected by common facilities at the main level. (Rendering courtesy of the Torrington Building Committee)

A $179 million construction project has been under way in Connecticut since last fall to build a new, combined Torrington Middle School/High School complex.

Encompassing 310,000 sq. ft., the building is being constructed on the sloping southwest part of the 31-acre campus, allowing the use of the northern and eastern portions for athletic fields to support both middle and high school sports.

According to O&G Industries in Torrington, the project's construction manager, the existing high school has remained open and operational as work has progressed, but the old structure is scheduled to be torn down once the new building is occupied by December 2024. The middle school will be ready by June 2025.

O&G also served as the construction manager for the original Torrington High School (THS) when it was built in the 1960s.

The building will feature a modern motif that also nods to the city's industrial past, including a brick facade. The new school will have separate entrances and wings for its three-story middle school and a four-story high school connected by common facilities at the main level. There will be an auditorium and performance stage, two separate dining rooms, two gyms and support spaces for athletes.

In addition, the school's central administration office will also be housed in the complex — on the fourth floor of the high school wing — and have its own entrance.

The state is paying 85 percent of the project, leaving city taxpayers to fund the remaining $26.9 million.

THS Athletics Face Challenges Due to Construction

All students and teachers have been impacted by the construction during this school year, but for THS athletes and coaches, the inconveniences of the work have been more pronounced.

The decision to build a new combined facility on the existing high school site meant only minor inconvenience during the indoor winter sports season, with pylons rising out of the ground last fall where the school's old parking lot and tennis courts used to be (a new parking lot has since replaced the old softball field behind THS).

Parents and fans of Torrington High's athletics have had to use the front of the existing building to reach the gym one floor down due to all other access points being sealed off during construction.

"Some people complained they had to walk a long way inside the school to reach the gym," said THS Athletic Director Mike McKenna. "I told them that was the only entrance we had left."

But he said that, overall, THS fans, coaches and students are doing the best they can with the construction going on.

"I'm in awe of how cooperative and unselfish my coaches are in dealing with the changes," McKenna told the Torrington Register Citizen.

The cooperation begins with constricted practice facilities.

On a recent day, for example, the THS golf team practiced chipping on one side of a vast field that will serve as the future site of multiple baseball, softball and soccer fields for middle school/high school athletes.

Nearby, javelin throwers from the track and field squad practice on the field at a safe distance from the runners using the track surrounding the football/soccer turf.

"We'll have more space once the golfers go to their country club," Gaitan Rodriguez, the school's track and field coach, said in jest to one of his throwers. "Right now, this is our country club."

For now, Rodriguez, who also is the THS Raiders' football coach in the fall, happily joins other Torrington coaches in ceding parts of his turf.

After the old softball field became the school's parking lot, the City of Torrington authorized $20,000 for a temporary softball field nestled between the new lot and the track.

For now, the short right field fence will be THS's own Green Monster jutting up against the parking lot boundary during baseball and softball games.

Meanwhile, as the temporary field dries out, the softball and baseball teams schedule practice time on the football field's turf before baseball moves to its regular playing spot at Fuessenich Park.

The tennis teams, though, have not been so lucky.

With their on-site courts long gone, eventually to be replaced by four to six high school courts, McKenna scrambled for an alternative practice site, before scheduling a pair of Torrington Parks and Recreation courts up the East Main Street hill on Durand Street.

Meanwhile, the earth continues to rumble with construction.




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