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022417 Huyck Stadium 02.jpg (copy) (copy)

In this Feb. 24, 2017, file photo, Russ Samaniego mows the grass field at Huyck Stadium at Lompoc High School. A group that is pushing to significantly remodel the stadium announced this month that it has topped $1 million in fundraising and is nearing its goal.

The planned renovation of Lompoc’s Huyck Stadium is nearing its funding goal, and the remodel could involve more immediate upgrades than originally planned, including a community exercise zone. 

The Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization (LVCHO), which launched the Campaign for the Lompoc Community Track & Field this year to raise half of the $2.4 million total projected cost of the project, revealed Oct. 4 that it had surpassed $1 million in fundraising. Thanks to a matching grant, the campaign needs just $100,000 more to reach its goal of $1.2 million, according to the LVCHO.

Lompoc Unified School District has pledged to contribute the other $1.2 million for the project, on the condition that the LVCHO is able to raise its share of the funds.

“This is going to happen and it is exciting,” Ashley Costa, the executive director of the LVCHO, said of the planned renovations.

The project, which was first proposed by Costa and the LVCHO in February 2017, is slated to primarily involve converting the natural grass field at the stadium to synthetic turf, switching the track from its loose red clay to a synthetic “all-weather” surface, and reconfiguring the track to meet modern CIF standards.

Given that the fundraising campaign has gone so well, Costa said that the LVCHO would continue to seek grants and donations with the goal of acquiring enough funding to expand the project’s first phase to also include a community exercise zone.

In an update provided to the Lompoc City Council on Oct. 2, Costa said that the exercise area would be open to the community for free use.

“Originally, we thought the exercise zone, conceived after the project commenced, was designated as a phase two initiative,” Costa said through a statement from the LVCHO, “but it looks like we may be able to install it with the track and field renovation.”

About $900,000 of the total funds raised has come from the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, which kicked off the fundraising campaign in February with a $450,000 donation, and three other foundations that asked to remain anonymous, according to the LVCHO.

The organization reported that another $197,000 has been raised within Lompoc from individual donors, families, local businesses and service groups.

Among those local donors, the Lompoc Rotary Club recently announced that it would give the proceeds from its February 2019 Lompoc Wine Tasting event to the effort, and CoastHills Credit Union announced in September that it would collect donations at its three Lompoc-area branches and contribute up to $25,000 in matching funds with the hope of raising $50,000 for the project.

Scott Coe, the chief marketing officer at CoastHills, said he was inspired to get CoastHills involved, in part, because of his own experience running cross country at Lompoc High School in the 1970s and also seeing his son, Michael, run on the same outdated surface a decade ago while Michael competed for Cabrillo High School.

“This is about more than just a track and a field,” the elder Coe said. “This is an opportunity for everyone in the community to take steps toward improving their health and fitness.”

That community aspect has been among the major selling points for those advocating for the project.

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The upgrades are expected to provide a boost to the high school sports teams that compete in the stadium — including the Lompoc and Cabrillo high football teams — but they are also expected to help bring positive changes to the community at-large.

The stadium hosts communitywide events like the annual Fourth of July fireworks shows and the American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life fundraisers, but the upgrades could also open the venue up to local residents for exercise and recreation on a more regular basis.

“Foundations have engaged because they understand that a renovated track and field will serve Lompoc, much like Santa Barbara City College serves the city of Santa Barbara,” said Ginger Salazar, a Lompoc High School alumna and campaign volunteer who is leading foundation fundraising. “In Santa Barbara every morning and evening, you find community members running the track and stadium steps.”

Salazar noted that the renovations could also lead to LUSD and other organizations using the facility to host new events, such as those focused on arts and music, science and technology, and/or fitness.

“Discussions are already underway with (the) Santa Barbara Arts and Lectures community outreach program, Viva del Arte, to host a community concert in the renovated stadium in conjunction with school arts educational outreach,” she said.

The LVCHO is also raising funds by selling engraved bricks that it plans to use on the walkway in the stadium's main entrance. Those bricks, which vary in size and can be used to memorialize or recognize a family member, athlete or business, range in cost from $150 to $1,010. The deadline to purchase a brick is Dec. 1.

LUSD’s contribution to the project is completely unrelated to Measure E, the $79 million schools improvement bond that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot, according to district leaders.

According to a discussion at the Sept. 11 meeting of the LUSD board of education, the district plans to submit an overview of the project to the Department of the State Architect for approval in early November.

A revised timeline of the project, which was also discussed at that Sept. 11 meeting, calls for construction to begin in August 2019, though that could be pushed back if the district decides to not have it interfere with the 2019 high school football season.

The city of Lompoc is also involved in the project, which is why Costa provided an update this month to the Lompoc City Council. The Lompoc Recreation Division could potentially utilize the venue when it is not in use by the school district, taking in rental fees to cover the cost of staffing the venue.

“We can program the field with youth and adult sports programs, as well as rental opportunities for practice, games or tournaments,” said Lompoc Recreation Manager Mario Guerrero. “The city would collaborate with community groups such as the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club to expand opportunities for the Lompoc Valley.”

Anyone interested in donating to the CoastHills effort can do so at the branches in Lompoc, Vandenberg Village and on Vandenberg Air Force Base; through the credit union’s website at https://www.coasthills.coop/trackandfield; or by calling 1-800-262-4488.

For more information on the project itself, or to purchase one of the bricks, visit http://lompoctrackandfield.com or call 805-736-4509.

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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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Reporter

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