Brunswick study finds new school track could cost $860K

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BRUNSWICK — The School Board facilities committee is exploring ways to raise funds for a new track at the high school, which a study found would cost about $860,000.

The committee has formed a subcommittee to devise a plan – although a Tuesday night meeting lacked representatives from the Town Council and recreation commission, groups that at least one member said should play a role in the process.

Athletic Director Jeff Ramich told about a dozen people at the meeting that the school won’t host meets at the 21-year-old track because certain components on the surface pose a safety hazard.

“I don’t think it’s at a point where we can condemn it,” Ramich said, but he said athletes were forced to use only the less-worn outer lanes, and coaches from other districts are not willing to let their teams use the facility.

A project of this scale isn’t in the department’s budget, but in anticipation of an impending replacement, the track was listed in the town’s capital improvement program a few years ago.

Superintendent Paul Perzanoski explained the town moves forward with projects in the CIP on a priority basis, and the plan does not designate a strict schedule. 

Perzanoski said he would float the idea of the town bonding for the project at a finance committee meeting Thursday.

Massachusett’s-based Huntress Associates performed a study on the track in February, and the bid submitted for a new facility would include excavation and reconstruction of the entire facility.

The committee will submit remaining design questions to Huntress, and then reconvene Tuesday, Dec. 21, to discuss a fundraising strategy. Several committee members said it will be difficult to raise funds without knowing what they were selling to the community.

The group will also ask Huntress for a more precise construction schedule, since they are operating under an assumption of around six to eight months. Depending on the start of construction, that period could theoretically interfere with practices held on the football field, which the track circles. 

Because the track is also used by town residents, facilities committee member Corrine Perreault said she was frustrated not to see representatives from the recreation commission and the Town Council at the meeting, since they have a stake.

Whether that stake is financial is unclear. In future meetings, the group will discuss where to look for the best sources of funding.

“It’s never been my thought that the whole $860,000 would fall to this committee,” committee Chairwoman Sarah Singer said.

Councilor Alison Harris was in attendance Tuesday, but stated that she was there as “an observer” and member of the finance committee. She agreed with Perrault that the council should be notified.

In thinking about funding sources, she cautioned the group not to think about the council and School Board coffers as separate.

“It’s coming out of all of our pockets,” Harris said.

A new track is not the only aging school facility slated for replacement. On Monday, the School Board will submit a $33.6 million budget to the council for a new, locally funded elementary school and repairs to the junior high school.

Callie Ferguson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net. Follow Callie on Twitter: @calliecferguson.

Weeds grow between cracks on the aging track at Brunswick High School.

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Reporter on the Brunswick/Harpswell beat. Proud Bowdoin grad that you can find reporting on municipal, school, and community news, or inside the many coffee and sandwich shops around the Midcoast. Callie can be reached at 207-781-3661 ext. 100.
  • poppypapa

    “excavation and reconstruction of the entire facility?”

    What have they been doing; holding 18 wheeler races on the track?

    Those weeds provide a clue on how to fund the repair. Eliminate the salaried position that was responsible for care and maintenance of the facility, and use the saved compensation and benefits cost to amortize the loan for repairs.

    This is a repeat of the unshoveled roof approach at Jordan Acres that is now costing us $30 million in new school construction. Screw up, and nobody pays with their job for the lack of accountability.

    Instead, taxpayers bear the brutal cost of the negligence because it’s ‘for the children,’ and ‘community pride.’

    Isn’t it time somebody in authority started thinking about ‘community shame,’ as well as ‘for the taxpayer?’