Westborough high sports complex targeted for much-needed upgrades

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The Westborough High School sports complex Photo/Bonnie Adams
The Westborough High School sports complex
Photo/Bonnie Adams

By John Orrell, Contributing Writer

Westborough – Vital components of the Westborough High School (WHS) sports complex are in deteriorating condition and beyond repair with some not meeting Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, according to school officials.

As a result, an effort is under way to address the deficiencies in a project that is being referred to as “Rangers on Track.”

“As I’ve been here over the course of 10 years, I’ve watched the field begin to deteriorate and in the past four years the track has begun to deteriorate at even a more rapid pace,” said WHS Athletic Director Johanna DiCarlo. “We’re noticing as we play on the turf that we’re walking away with more and more blades of grass of the plastic strands. Kids are taking tons of that home and we’re noticing that the field has become more and more slippery because we’re losing fibers and they’re not re-growing.

“The track also is showing many signs of wear and tear with big holes in it. The material’s starting to fade away and there are big chunks of the material coming off.”

Both the track and high school varsity turf are approximately 13 years old, according to DiCarlo, with the average life expectancy approximately 8 to 10 years. She also points to the open bleacher setup that should be closed in and is potentially unsafe in the current configuration and does not meet ADA compliance.

With School Committee approval, the consulting firm Huntress Associates was hired this past spring to create a master plan for the project that lays out all options for improving the school’s sports complex. A community forum was then held with approximately 50 attendees who offered ideas and recommendations for the project. Following the forum, an executive committee consisting of all volunteers was formed that appointed DiCarlo and town resident Rob Nagi as co-chairs.

The Huntress master plan was later presented to the committee that offered a comprehensive needs assessment and detailed recommendations. Among the plan’s components were much-needed safety repairs to the turf field, track and bleachers as well as upgrade opportunities for storage needs, press box improvements, field lighting and renovation of the school’s upper Hayes Field. The plan also focused on facility needs beyond those that are immediately pressing.

The estimated cost of all recommendations in the master plan is $3.5 million. School officials may now use that estimate as a barometer, but are realistic knowing that funding must be secured in order to proceed.

“Ideally, we would like to do the entire project that would meet all needs,” said DiCarlo. “But we’re realistic that funding must be addressed and options researched.”

Those options include a tentative plan to secure funding for the project through a combination of public funds and private fundraising. The committee plans to keep town residents informed about the undertaking through surveys and other means of communication beginning this fall.

There are immediate plans to begin funding through school events. The third-annual 5K Turkey Trot will be held Saturday, Nov. 19, and a “Week of Lights” football game will be held Friday, Oct. 7. All proceeds from both events will benefit the Rangers on Track project.

Further information may be found on the school district website http://westboroughk12.org.