Council to vote on Middle School track and field renovations

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BURRILLVILLE – A $1.8 million to $3.4 million project to rebuild outdoor athletic facilities at Burrillville Middle School will go before the Town Council Wednesday night as a potential capital improvement project for the upcoming year.

Public Works Director Jeff McCormick presented several options for how the town could move forward with plans to renovate the track and field at the school, with projects that could include lighting, rest rooms, concession stands and new bleachers.

The total base cost for the proposed Branch River Improvement Project, according to plans prepared by Casali Engineering, would be $1,893,525. The base plan would include a new javelin throw runway, a discus throw/shot put cage, a pole vault landing pad, and a regulation long jump, along with a new synthetic track and field.

“We have a track at the Burrillville Middle School that is not up to scholastic league standards,” said McCormick. “It has cracking in it. It gets overused.”

To add an eight pole, high mass lighting system at the school, the cost, McCormick said, would jump to $2,528,525.

For a bleacher system with seating for 400 – without the lighting – it would cost $2,059,525. For the base project plus a rest rooms and concessions, the total price for the town would be an estimated $2,153,175.

And for the complete project with all hoped for amenities, the cost would be between $3 million and $3.4 million. The estimated price, McCormick noted, includes a $400,000 contingency fund.

The DPW director noted that the current 20-year-old track has ruts in the surface.

“The lighting is good enough for people who walk around at night, but not really for a night time event, and the field itself is sod,” said McCormick. “We probably want to do a synthetic field as well, so we’re not dragging the soil all over this brand new track.”

McCormick noted that the town should also address parking issues at the school, and could move the girls softball field to add parking there.

“When they have cross country events for the whole state it fills up the entire parking,” he said.

The full project would allow field use at night, and all day long on weekends. Beyond serving high school and middle school athletes, he noted that it could be used by outside groups including Burrillville Patriots Football.

The grass slope by the field, he said, could be used for additional lawn seating.

A design by Casali Engineering shows potential improvements for the outdoor athletic facilities at Burrillville Middle School.

Councilor Raymond Trinque said that while he fully supports the project, he knows that the high school football team won’t play there.

“They don’t want to play away games and there’s no locker room facilities there,” Trinque said.

The field is on a piece of town-owned land, which makes the project fall under council jurisdiction, but Trinque noted that school administration should still be involved.

“If there’s a way we could work this project for the benefit of the athletic department, and they would play more games there,” he said. “I think it would be more useful.”

Councilor Donald Fox has taken a lead role on the project, and noted that he has already met with school administration including the athletic director.

“I think that’s started,” Fox said.

He noted that the project has interest, however, that extends well beyond school athletics.

“This has the interest of one of the most successful youth football programs in northern Rhode Island: the Burrillville Patriots,” said Fox. “That’s an organization that is finding it hard to play at the high school. That program does not deserve to play in the mud at Callahan.”

“I’m going to advocate for that field as part of that track program because there is a large contingency of parents in this town who want to see something like this go into effect,” said Fox.

Costs, he noted, could be paid with the help of field rentals.

“I know we’re spending a good amount of money with the town of North Smithfield to rent their turf for the upcoming season,” said Fox. “Those are revenue streams that, while they’re small, taken over a number of years, go toward the maintenance of that field.”

Fox estimated that the cost to replace the field every 10 years is $100,000.

“We have a large group of people that are interested in making this project a success,” he said. “We need to move it forward.”

Town Manager Michael Wood noted that the council has already set aside $50,000 in the town’s capital improvement budget for the project. He suggested that the board set up a building committee as a next step forward.

Fox noted that the project could also be funded through bonds, and noted that it could add up to a tax increase of around $40 per household.

“I think it’s manageable,” Fox said.

Both Trinque and Fox said that they would want to serve on the building committee.

The council is expected to look at the project as part of the town’s capital improvement plan for the upcoming fiscal year at their meeting on Wednesday, March 27.

The meeting will also serve as a public hearing for the CIP budget, and the council is expected to make a recommendation to the budget board on how to allocate those funds this year.

It will be held at 105 Harrisville Main St., beginning at 7 p.m.

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