After more than two years of planning and fundraising, the community partners behind the planned renovation of Lompoc's Huyck Stadium are set to finally break ground on the multimillion-dollar project.

The Lompoc Unified School District board of education on Tuesday approved a scope of work and financing plan to pay for the project, which could cost as much as $3.8 million. Representatives of the nonprofit Campaign for the Lompoc Community Track and Field attended Tuesday’s meeting, where they presented LUSD officials with an initial donation check of $1.2 million and stated that they intend to donate another $450,000 upon completion of the project.

The moves, which occurred three months after the LUSD board approved Byrom-Davey Inc. as the project’s lead contractor, paved the way for the renovation work to begin on or around Monday, Nov. 25. The work is slated to be completed by May 2020, and the project backers are planning a grand opening celebration at Huyck Stadium for May 30 and May 31.

“This is a historic night for LUSD,” Superintendent Trevor McDonald said upon accepting the donation. “The gift we are being presented with will benefit not only today’s students but many generations in the future. We are grateful for the generosity of the community and their commitment to healthy living.”

The first phase of the project is slated to consist of converting the natural grass field at the stadium to synthetic turf, switching the track from its loose red clay to a synthetic polyurethane “all-weather” surface, and reconfiguring the track to the modern accepted standard of 400 meters with nine lanes.

The project also calls for the construction of a community exercise zone with outdoor exercise equipment, new filtered water drinking fountains, security cameras and some lighting upgrades. It also will include donor recognitions, including the “Foundation of the Community” donor brick paver walkway and “Pillars of the Community” concrete columns.

More than 200 individual bricks have been sold to members of the community, according to the Campaign for the Lompoc Community Track and Field.

It would be the most comprehensive work done at Huyck Stadium since it first opened in 1963.

LUSD, which agreed in 2017 to split the project cost with the independent Campaign for the Lompoc Community Track and Field, will utilize a so-called "lease-leaseback" agreement to pay for the work. 

Lease-leaseback agreements are authorized by California education code in an effort to deliver school facilities on time, on budget and with a reduced level of public risk. They essentially allow a school district to lease land it owns to a contractor for a nominal fee in return for the contractor's agreement to build school facilities on that site.

The Huyck Stadium renovation will mark LUSD's first use of a lease-leaseback agreement.

Among those who attended Tuesday's board meeting to present the donation check to LUSD was Ashley Costa, executive director for the Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization, which facilitated the capital campaign.

She was joined by at least one representative of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, which kicked off the campaign by donating $450,000 in early 2018, as well as a representative of the Lompoc Rotary Club, which agreed to sponsor the stadium’s memorial flagpole with a $25,000 donation.

Costa, who first proposed the project in February 2017, said she was "proud" to be a part of the committee that spearheaded the effort and helped raise more than $1.6 million.

"The partnership with [LUSD] was phenomenal and I cannot express enough thanks to our over 300 donors for their generosity," she said. "This renovation will be transformational for our community, providing a free, safe and well-lit facility to exercise, recreate and connect.”

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Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.

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Willis Jacobson covers news and other issues, primarily those that affect the Lompoc Valley and Vandenberg Air Force Base for the Lompoc Record. He is a graduate of The University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications.