Plan for Middle School field renovations on the horizon

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BURRILLVILLE – The Town Council approved a five year capital improvement plan Wednesday night that tentatively anticipates $3,000,000 in spending in 2020 for renovation of the track and field at Burrillville Middle School.

While the plan is merely considered a draft guide of what the board hopes to accomplish over the next several years, inclusion of the project is an early indication that the issue will be studied with the hope to move forward, and at least one councilor indicated he intends to see the project through.

“I’m going to pushing very heavily to move this forward,” said Councilor Donald Fox. “I believe the kids in this town deserve this. In towns that are far less well-managed they have these facilities.”

Public Works Director Jeff McCormick has presented several options for how the town could rehabilitate the track and field, with project estimates for a synthetic surface 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.

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

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.

Plans for the field were looked at as part of the town’s projected capital expenses, and a worksheet noted that the project could be covered through bond funding.

But some councilors noted that much work is still needed to determine if and how the town should move forward.

“I understand there’s some people that are very passionate about it,” Councilor Dennis Anderson said of the project. “But $3.4 million is a lot of money.”

Anderson said he would need a, “proper, unbiased, objective assessment,” to feel comfortable with the expense.

“I don’t have a sense of the value of that at all right now,” he said.

Town Manager Michael Wood has recommended that the council form a building committee to explore more detailed information on the project, and Fox and Councilor Raymond Trinque have indicated that they hope to serve on it.

“I agree with you it’s important that they come back with options,” Councilor Stephen Rawson told Anderson of the committee. “This is in its infancy.”

Wood noted that the capital budget approved by the council may be revisited in June when the board votes on a more detailed fiscal plan for the year, after expected revenues are calculated.

“The idea of the capital budget is to tell the community what we’re hoping to do over the long term and the short term,” said Wood. “That isn’t a budget – it’s just a plan.”

Several residents came out to the meeting held on Wednesday, March 27 to hear about the project. Discussion noted that while the project will benefit school athletes, there are several outside leagues – including the Burrillville Patriots Football program – that would be able to use the improved facility, which is situated on town-owned land.

Fox noted that community input will be welcomed as work gets underway.

“Right now we pay tens of thousands of dollars for our kids to play at other fields,” said Fox. “This is something for future generations.”

For more information on projects included in the capital improvement plan approved by the board, visit NRI NOW later this week.

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