Count Father Judge High School football coach Tom Coyle among the people looking forward to completion of the Ramp Playground Renovation Project.
A portion of the playground is in the final stages of being transformed into a two-field complex, one for baseball and another for multipurpose activities.
Judge’s soccer, lacrosse, rugby and JV and freshman football teams will use the multipurpose field for games. The varsity football team will practice there.
Both fields feature artificial turf.
“I can’t wait. It’s like getting ready for Christmas,” said Coyle, whose team will open the 2012 season with a game in Ireland. “This is a first-class facility for our guys to practice on. We’re very, very fortunate. We used to practice on a rock quarry.”
The playground, at Rowland and Solly avenues, is across the street from the school. It is named in memory of James J. Ramp, a police officer from nearby Arthur Street who was killed in 1978 in a showdown with the radical group MOVE in Powelton Village.
Judge officials believe the Ramp family will be proud that the overhaul will enhance the look of the playground.
Neighbors on Crispin Street, Welsh Road and Rowland Avenue should also appreciate the improvements, they believe.
St. Jerome CYO and Crispin Gardens Athletic Club will be among the local schools and organizations that will continue to be able to use the fields.
“This is going to be great for the community,” said the Rev. Joseph Campellone, Judge’s president.
The two new fields replace three baseball fields and a football field. The grounds were known as the “Dust Bowl” because of the amount of dirt that was kicked up during use.
The remainder of the playground will stay the same. It includes basketball courts, play equipment and a foot hockey rink.
The $2.8 million project is a joint venture of Friends of Father Judge High School Inc., the city Department of Parks and Recreation and the office of recently retired City Councilwoman Joan Krajewski.
The city will continue to own and maintain the property, which will be locked when not in use.
Seravalli Contractors Inc. ripped out the grass, replaced it with turf and added all of the amenities. Judge is pleased that the job is being completed on budget and on time.
The football team used the old grass and dirt field. The new practice field will feature hash marks and yard lines, goal posts, bleachers and end zones and a scoreboard in Father Judge blue.
There is enough room, and the underground infrastructure is in place, for a possible press box and additional bleachers.
Coyle said the real look of a football field will help better prepare his varsity team for games.
“The bulk of the work is done in practice,” he said.
As for the other programs, the soccer and lacrosse teams practice and play on the field in the rear of the school. The rugby team competes at Pennypack on the Delaware.
“We’ll be able to play day games and night games,” said Brian King, Judge’s director of advancement, who has overseen the project. “There will be a campus atmosphere day and night at Father Judge.”
The multipurpose field includes different color lines to mark the boundaries for each of the sports.
The baseball field includes dugouts, bullpens, on-deck areas, bleachers and a scoreboard. The dimensions are 308 feet to left and right field and 380 feet to center field.
The fences are 8 feet high in the outfield. There’s several feet of space, then 10-foot-high fences that are on an incline on the perimeter of the property.
“You’d have to hit a ball 345 feet to put one out on Crispin Street,” King said.
Campellone thanked alumni and the city for their generosity in building a first-class complex. The fencing and lighting are new, and some sidewalks have been repaired.
No longer will high winds cause a dust storm. Rain won’t create puddles.
Even the trashcans/recycling buckets look nice.
“It’s kind of humbling for me and my board,” Campellone said.
The facility will open once the city Department of Public Property gives its OK. A grand opening celebration will be scheduled.
The school is also planning a Homecoming weekend for Oct. 5 to 8. Festivities will include an alumni baseball game, a soccer game, a Hall of Fame ceremony and the annual Taste of Northeast Philly. The football team will play La Salle at Abraham Lincoln that weekend.
Campellone said Judge remains a place geared to academic excellence and character development. The school will continue to aggressively go after state Educational Improvement Tax Credit donations to make tuition more affordable for parents and students already sacrificing.
The new complex will undoubtedly help Judge market itself. Campellone sees it as another way Judge is offering a private school product at an archdiocesan tuition price.
“It’s part of the plan to make this a campus,” he said. ••EndFragment