Norwich’s Sabine Field Renovation to Begin after End of Football Season
It was finally formally announced last Saturday at the Norwich football game by university president, Richard W. Schneider, that Sabine Field will be rebuilt with construction to begin this fall as soon as the football season is complete. The announcement was the highlight of this year’s homecoming weekend, one which saw a large turnout of almuni and friends of the university.
Mr. Schneider said that pending permitting and final fundraising, construction is scheduled to begin late this fall, after the final Norwich football game of the season is played on the field.
The total cost of the project is estimated at over $5 million, and the renovation is scheduled to be completed in time for Fall 2013.
“I was so pleased to share with alumni during Homecoming celebration last weekend our plans to move forward with the Sabine Field renovations,” Mr. Schneider said. “We are very excited about this project as we feel these improvements will take our athletic and training programs to the next level.”
It has been a long and at times, stressful road which has led to this announcement to build the new $5 million facility. After a number of community complaints from local residents, mostly on Central Street, the project received local planning commission approval, approval by the Zoning Board of Appeals last year and recently was passed by Vermont Act 250.
The planning commission approved
Norwich’s refurbishing and expansion of Sabine Field, with conditions, and the zoning board of adjustment approved the project as well last year. Neighbors had been concerned about noise, traffic and parking. Those issues were addressed by Norwich eventually to the satisfaction of the two boards if not the residents.
Norwich is expanding both the size and the use of Sabine Field by adding lights, an improved sound system and scheduling Rugby, soccer, lacrosse and football games on the facility, as well as night time practices.
Last year, Gail Lawson said that she did not want to see the project stopped but spoke about concerns regarding the noise and lighting. She read from a letter signed by herself and her husband, Doug Lawson, who at the time was a village trustee, requesting that the sound system point in a southerly direction that would direct the sound back toward campus, as opposed to the northerly direction presented in the plans.
Representatives from Norwich, Bizhan Yah Yazadeh and Brad McKay, both said that Norwich wants to be a good neighbor and with the help of Ron Lyon from Dubois and King, who headed up the engineering of the project, community concerns were addressed. The Lawsons have since moved from Northfield.
In the spring of 1957 Major General Harmon, then president of Norwich and a famous commander of two Armored Divisions in World War II, decided to procure a Sherman Tank from Army Surplus as a memorial to the sixteen
Norwich generals and 1,600 other officers who were Norwich graduates who had served in World War II.
Initially, the tank was placed at the northwest corner of the upper parade ground where it remained until the construction of Gerard Hall when it was then driven down to Sabine Field by Master Sergeant Confessore of the ROTC Detachment.
From that date, it sat on Sabine Field and affectionately became known as Sabine Sally, slowly sinking into the soil because it was never placed on a concrete base.
Two years ago the SMHC Associates initiated a volunteer project to restore the tank. The first step was to develop a detailed Condition Report describing necessary repairs and improvements. This task was accomplished in the summer of 2008 by members of the Green Mountain Military Vehicle Club under the direction of Associate Jack Mc Dermott, NU ‘60
With the approval of President Schneider, the tank was refurbished in the fall of 2009 and the tank has been stored in a warehouse until it can be replaced on the new Sabine Field.
It was Mr. Larry Costa, NU ’80, who paid to refurbish the tank and has stored it until it can be put back on campus. Construction of the new field will begin as soon as the current football season ends and is expected to be complete by the end of next summer when the tank will be brought back and placed at the western end of the field on permanent display.