When the lighting system at Memorial Athletic Field was complete in October, it marked an end to the piecemeal repairs and replacements that had been going on for years.
Matt Tyler, manager of Jefferson County Parks and Recreation, recalled the original lighting system had been installed in 1974, and that made it imperative to update the whole system, rather than just continuing to fix one light at a time.
“As the old lights and other parts would burn out, we were having to go on eBay to find replacements, because they were so old,” said Tyler, who estimated the lighting replacement project took two to three years to complete, and it was delayed for a roof replacement project at the athletic field that took just about as long.
After undergoing lighting and roof replacements, as well as the installation of an irrigation system, Memorial Athletic Field, at 550 Washington St., is scheduled for a ribbon-cutting ceremony from 5 to 6 p.m. Dec. 7.
“The old lights had a pretty good run,” Tyler said. “The parts were literally starting to fall off, from the aluminum covers to one 40-pound copper transformer that was just dangling by a single wire. Especially with as busy as that field is, which is all the time, this needed to be done.”
Tyler said Memorial Athletic Field is the only public athletic field in Port Townsend, and the only lighted field in Jefferson County.
“Even the grass on the field is at capacity, which means we’re growing it as fast as we can to meet the demand for the field’s use,” Tyler said. “And we’ve recently added youth and adult recreational soccer leagues, as well as a new youth football team. We have people coming to this field from as far as Forks and Bremerton.”
While Tyler expressed his appreciation to the area school districts for making their field available when they can for certain events, he pointed out those school fields are not public, nor does he see those school districts as having the money to maintain their fields if they were to experience the additional use if Memorial Athletic Field were no longer available.
Libby Masaracchia of Jefferson County Public Works deemed the feedback they received regarding the new lights — from players, coaches, photographers and spectators alike — as “outstanding.”
Tyler touted the support of local agency partners and donors for making the project possible, including Jefferson Healthcare, the Chimacum and Port Townsend school districts, the Chimacum and Port Townsend booster clubs, the Rotary clubs of Port Townsend and East Jefferson County, Olympic Peninsula Steam and the Rakers Car Club.
“What was great was that every group we asked to partner with us, and help pay for it, said yes,” Tyler said. “That level of community support was part of the reason why we earned grant funding.”
Masaracchia said the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office funded 45 percent of the project’s total cost of $361,729, thereby enabling an upgrade to Smart LED lights, which are more efficient and guaranteed for 25 years.
“This project grant application was ranked No. 1 in the State of Washington Youth Athletic Facility Program with the Recreation and Conservation Office,” Tyler said.