Pols announce funding to transform athletic fields at Harry S. Truman High School

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Assembly Education Committee Chair Michael Benedetto and City Councilmember Kevin Riley join school officials on May 26 to announce significant funding for a Harry S. Truman High School renovation project.
Photo Raven Brown

Elected officials announced plans last week for a $10 million facelift –highlighted by the installation of a turf field — to the athletic fields at Harry S. Truman High School in the Baychester section of the Bronx.

On May 26, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Assembly Education Committee Chair Michael Benedetto and Councilmember Kevin Riley joined school officials where they unveiled funding that would convert the current field into a turf surface, which will be used for football, soccer, flag football, softball and baseball. Surface replacement and upgrades to the track, which will include new space for discus and javelin throwing events, will then enable the school to host officially sanctioned track meets.

The project will also include modernization of the bleachers, scoreboard and scorebox, light and concession stand, as well as additional storage space. This investment will bring the facilities into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The City Council has committed $6.7 million and the state Assembly allocated $3.3 million to upgrade the outdoor athletic facilities.

“The New York State Assembly has tirelessly fought for investments in education,” Heastie said. “Investments in our classrooms are essential to the success of our students, but funding for other school facilities is critical too. Participation in extracurricular activities is proven to have a positive impact on student achievement.”

While Heastie does not represent the Baychester area, he is an alum of the school and felt compelled to help when his colleagues in government reached out. Fields he once played on as a kid, the funding was even more meaningful for him, Heastie said. However, he credited the planned renovations to Riley and Benedetto.

“Co-op City means a lot to me,” Heastie said. “Our students deserve topflight facilities.”

Truman High School Head Football Coach John Shepherd called the fields his second home. Shepherd told the Bronx Times the renovations are long overdue and will help the athletes for years to come.

The coach said the renovations will allow teams more access to the fields as there is often not enough space for teams to practice and/or play games at the same time. He added that the fields are in poor condition when there is bad weather, and the new turf field will make things safer for the athletes.

“This is truly an iconic day in both Truman athletic history and academic history,” Shepherd said. “We know that students who thrive in athletics are usually held to a higher standard of accountability, which enables them to perform better in the classroom. The lessons we learn on the field translate to the classroom as well.”

Truman football player Jordan Paulino, a junior, knows he likely will not play on the renovated fields before he graduates, but said they will impact generations of Truman athletes.

“Having turf and a place where we can build a foundation for a program will be helpful for us,” he said. “As a Truman Mustang this field will mean a lot to us.”

The renovations are expected to begin this fall and be completed sometime in 2023.

Reach Jason Cohen at jcohen@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes