Speaking of her son Gerald last night outside the Town Hall hearing room, Patricia L. DeConto said he had positively affected “so many people” during his life.
“We wanted to do something positive in his memory,” Mrs. DeConto said.
Earlier that evening, the DeConto family had taken another step toward doing just that.
They gained the support of the board of selectmen for a $1,147,783 Community Preservation Act request to complete the Captain Gerald F. DeConto Veterans Memorial Stadium at Sandwich High School.
They and backers of the stadium proposal also secured a commitment from the selectmen to place a $500,000 proposal on the next Town Meeting warrant for the installation of artificial turf on the stadium’s sports field.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Capt. DeConto, 44, was at the Pentagon organizing the Navy’s response to the World Trade Center attacks in New York City when terrorists crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the building. He was one of 125 people to die in the Pentagon attack.
Mr. DeConto had been a soccer star at Sandwich High School. He graduated from Sandwich High in 1975 and from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland in 1979.
The DeConto family, working with a nonprofit organization known as the Sandwich Sports Complex Committee, already has made significant improvements to the athletic complex at the high school, including helping fund the construction of a new running track.
The former track had been condemned in 2001 by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association as unusable for athletic competitions.
The sports complex committee was formed to raise money and accept gifts to build a stadium to be named after Capt. DeConto at the high school.
At last night’s board of selectmen meeting, committee treasurer Timothy Paul described the $1.14 million proposal that the committee has submitted to the town’s Community Preservation Committee.
The proposal includes $396,000 for construction of bleachers with a press box, $541,783 for field excavation and drainage work, and $210,000 for the installation of field lights.
Mr. Paul said the proposed bleachers will accommodate a little under 1,200 people. At present, there are no bleachers or press box at the athletic complex.
The bleachers will be situated on the “home” side of DeConto Stadium, has been designed to conform to the hilly terrain, and will include handicap access.
The stadium project also will involve excavation of the field and removal of the existing sod. An underground drainage system will be installed to alleviate excessive water puddling that turns the field muddy during use.
The project also involves the installation of field lights. At present, no field lights exist at the complex, as the 40-year-old lights previously there had been removed because of their poor condition.
The lights will help give multiple teams access to the field. They also will allow for Friday night football games to be played at the stadium, with ample lighted parking.
The synthetic turf that is being proposed will help the field withstand heavy use. Because the turf does not qualify for community preservation funding, the selectmen are proposing that taxpayers fund its purchase and installation.