By Ben Murphy
As phase one of the Brookwood 2.0 project ends its third week, everything appears to be heading in the right direction.
“We are on time and under budget,” Pioneers are Leaders member Scott Moore said. “A project of this size done entirely with donations is always a bit tricky. I have been so proud of how the community, the school and the city, they have worked together.
Anytime we needed something that we didn’t have the money for or the ability to do ourselves it was completed by someone donating time or money,” Moore added. “John Punches somehow has been able to lead a group of people to the point where we are today. The work he has done is extraordinary.”
Punches, who is also a member of Pioneers are Leaders, the group behind the fundraising efforts for the project says that $700,000 have been raised for phase one, with $50,000 already having been raised for phase two, which is set to begin next summer.
“It looks good at this point,” Punches said. “Most of the money was raised by (the group) going out, meeting with people and selling the dream. There’s been a lot of time spent by quite a few people by going out and gathering funds to complete the project. Most people that want to donate money like this to a project like this want to meet in person.”
In fact it was a conversation between Punches and Moore that got kick-started the entire project.
“John and I were talking about the condition of the field after one particularly wet weekend last fall,” Moore said. “There had been a lot of games played on it and it was quite torn up. (Updating the field) was something the school would have to pay for and with the budget the way it is, we knew it probably wouldn’t happen.”
Now, with funds secured and crews largely consisting of volunteers putting in long hours to prepare the football and soccer field for artificial turf it’s clear that what started into a casual conversation turned into something more.
“Many people have come forward to donate time to help upgrade or fix small items,” Moore said. “Mark Bolle came in and donated a weeks worth of time, the use of his equipment and his crew and did all the digging. He saves us tens of thousands of dollars and did an amazing job. Bob Bonham has been our project manager, making sure everything is done right.
“Right now there is a crew that is setting up for completing the base for the playing surface,” Moore added. “A lot of attention has been put into the visitor side and making that a much nicer area for our guests.”
With the aimed completion date of Aug. 16 still well in reach, Moore explains what is in store next for the project once the field resurfacing is completed.
“On opening night you will see some additional cosmetic touches including a revamped visitor section,” Moore said, adding new goal-posts and soccer goals will be included as well.. “We also will have state of the art surveillance system with 24 hour live feed and continuous DVR recording. The cameras are in-fared and have facial recognition quality. The feature along with some additional security lighting are part of this phase.”
According to Moore, excitement has not only been seen in Clare, but in surrounding areas as well.
“The biggest feedback I get is from outside the Clare community regarding how this field will become a destination for soccer tournaments and playoff football at many levels,” Moore said. “I think those close to the project are excited about getting to this point when so many said it would never happen. It really is a testimony and tribute to a community that can do great things.”
As phase one’s completion draws closer, questions about what phase two will entail have already been answered as a new track surface has been confirmed and the possibility of new home bleachers among other improvements being discussed.
“We continue to raise money, we still have a lot to do,” Moore said. “The visitor parking lot and the need to address seating capacity continues to be at the top of the list.”
For more information on the Brookwood 2.0 project, including upcoming fundraisers visiting the Pioneers are Leaders Facebook group.