Freeport review board gets 1st look at track plan

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FREEPORT — Regional School Unit 5 is going before the Project Review Board for a concept review of the recently authorized high school track and field project.

The RSU was scheduled to present its plan to the board Wednesday, Feb. 8. The original agenda for the meeting stated there would be a public hearing, but the project is only receiving a concept review.

RSU 5 voters on Jan. 10 approved borrowing more than $1.5 million to build an artificial turf field and a running track at Freeport High School. The project, which was presented to voters in two separate bond questions, was rejected in Pownal and Durham, but overwhelmingly approved in Freeport. 

The first bond dictated that a maximum of just over $1.18 million could be spent on the proposed turf field and track. The second bond – which covers the cost of installing lights at the field and was contingent on approval of the first bond – was for just over $350,000, which brings the total in new borrowing to nearly $1.54 million.

Approval of the borrowing means the median residential property tax bill in each RSU town will increase by $100-$200 over the 10-year life of the bonds.

In Freeport, $16.05 will be added to the median tax bill each year. In Pownal, $18.23 will be added, and in Durham the increase will be $14.67.

The proposal to build an artificial turf field and eight-lane running track at the high school was proposed by the Tri-Town Track and Field Committee. The total cost of the project is more than $4 million; the committee raised almost $2.3 million, including a pledge of $1.3 million from Nike, which produces the Nike Grind material to be used in the project.

A representative from RSU 5 was scheduled on Wednesday to present a conceptual plan for the project as a site plan amendment at the high school. The plan will include an overview of the use of the facility, as well as the new amenities being proposed.

The plan includes installing new bleachers, storage buildings, a three-bay garage, a concession stand with bathrooms, a ticket stand, lighting over the field, a new public address system and a new softball field to be built over the area used for field hockey.

The RSU is proposing bleachers that will seat 750 people, with the intention of adding 250 additional seats in the future. The plan will also address parking, although no new parking spaces are being proposed. The intention is to use the 190 spaces already at the high school.

Following Wednesday’s meeting, RSU 5 will need to come back before the Project Review Board for site plan review and approval.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.