CANISTEO — The transformation of the Canisteo-Greenwood Rotary Field near the bus garage into a more sylvan Rotary Park that was predicted two years ago has begun.

A construction crew has cut down more than a dozen trees as the first step in the transformation into a more park-like setting with suggested improved parking and safer automotive traffic flow.

The plan was part of on-going Facilities Committee discussions about a proposed capital project that would involve virtually every corner of the sprawling Canisteo campuses.

The athletic field is host to district athletic activities from football practice to softball games. The Canisteo-Greenwood school district owns the field.

Facilities Committee member Pete Ambuski noted that Elm Street between Fifth and Sixth streets is frequently plugged during summers with the parked cars of athletes and families watching games.

He suggested placing parking spaces on the Elm and Sixth streets side of the field that would provide more parking spaces and a safer flow of traffic into and out of the field. With parking, older family members could watch games from the safety of their cars, he said.

Current District Superintendent Thomas Crook said this week that transforming the field, including cutting down the trees, will probably take until late summer.

Ambuski and former Interim Superintendent Chris Roser agreed many of the trees along the edge of the field are old and probably should be replaced. Roser used the James Street Park in Hornell as an example of transformation: When he taught in Hornell City Schools several decades ago, the field had no trees, Roser said. But now, he said, replanted trees give the appearance of “a park, rather than a field.”

Retired grounds and maintenance chief Tony Galeazzo, another Facilities Committee member, said that since the merger of Canisteo and Greenwood in 2004, “there has been a tremendous increase in the number of cars that park on the grass along Elm Street.” Residents along Elm Street have put up signs asking that people do not park on their property and the added parking spots will be a welcome addition.

Ambuski’s suggested field layout would include additional parking among existing trees and utility poles plus new fencing and guardrails that should be installed to protect athletes and spectators.

The former school board member suggested that existing electric transmission wires and telephone cables might be buried underground to eliminate the utility poles. If not, planning must include the support wires for the half dozen utility poles along Elm and Sixth streets, he said.

LaBella architect Alton Ainslie presented a layout that added 26 parking spaces contiguous to the district bus garage, 15 additional spaces along the entrance curve to the garage and 46 spaces along Elm and Sixth streets.

Plans included repaving the access curve from Fifth Street, additional repaving around the bus garage plus “replacing all damaged or deteriorated areas,” he said.

Open areas “along the north property line east and west of the fuel island need to be paved,” the architect said. Buses are often parked on dirt and mud, which will require “additional soil removal and added base materials,” he said.

The facilities committee members included teachers, administrators and district residents who have said they are interested in buildings, facilities and educational programs at the school district. Members met weekly for more than six months prior to the May 2018 vote to propose and discuss proposed work.

Along with the work at the Rotary fields, work will begin on the elementary and high school roofs. They were scheduled to begin during Spring Break but the work may be able to start sooner with the closure of school due to COVID-19.