Congressman Stephen F. Lynch announced that the U.S. House of Representatives has approved $200,000 in federal funding for the construction of a new artificial playing surface and running track at Oliver Ames High School in Easton. The funding is included in the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2008, which now heads to the U.S. Senate for approval.
Congressman Lynch originally secured $75,000 for the athletic field and track during the Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations process, but the funding, along with all other earmarks, was stripped out of the final Transportation-HUD Appropriations bill when the Congress deadlocked over spending. Lynch successfully lobbied to restore, and substantially increase, the funding in this year’s bill.
“We’ve been aware for some time that Easton has a severe shortage of fields for its youth, families and athletic teams,” said Congressman Stephen F. Lynch. “That problem has been exacerbated by the ongoing renovations at Oliver Ames High School and Easton Junior High School. In response, we reviewed the federal budget for a legislative vehicle that could provide some assistance, and we went to work advocating that Easton was especially deserving of some federal assistance. It worked. While this funding is a good start, we realize that we have to do more. Still, this federal funding will get us started.”
Earlier this year, after lengthy discussions with the Easton Board of Selectmen, as well as Town Administrator David Colton, Congressman Lynch approached Republican and Democratic leaders on the House Appropriations Committee to formally request federal funding for the new playing field and track. Congressman Lynch was notified that the funding would be included in the final House version of the bill, which was overwhelmingly approved by the House today, and will now be sent to the Senate for its approval.
“This is great news for Easton,” said Colleen Corona, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen. “We are working hard as a community to develop practical solutions to the shortage of field space in our community, and this will go a long way toward helping us renovate our high school stadium, which is in poor condition.”
Selectman John Haederle, who is also leading a fundraising effort through the private, non-profit organization Friends of Easton Athletic Complex, said, “We are extremely grateful to Congressman Lynch for his steadfast efforts to secure this earmark for Easton. A renovated Muscato Stadium will alleviate overcrowding and provide expanded opportunities for use by all members of the community.”
Congressman Lynch added, “Our goal here is to provide the students and families of Easton with a state-of-the-art athletic field that everyone can be proud of. I am pleased that the House of Representatives recognized the need in Easton and heard the concerns of the Selectmen and School and Recreation Committees, and dozens of sports groups in this worthy effort. This is how the system is supposed to work.”