Regional School Committee gets first look at ARHS athletic complex project

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Regional School Committee gets first look at ARHS athletic complex project
Renderings of the proposed ARHS athletic complex project stand outside of Northborough’s Town Meeting earlier this week. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

NORTHBOROUGH – A more than $7 million improvement project may be coming to Algonquin Regional High School athletic fields.

This is after the Regional School Committee was presented with plans for upgrades and improvements to the stadium field, junior varsity field, track and tennis courts.

During a Regional School Committee meeting April 12, Superintendent Greg Martineau said the presentation was the first step in the long-term project to gather feedback from stakeholders.

“Tonight really starts that journey forward,” Martineau said.

Background of the project

The athletic fields project dates back to at least 2013 when the consulting engineering firm Gale Associates conducted an assessment of Algonquin’s facilities.

Martineau said the firm made recommendations, essentially saying that upgrades needed to take place.

“That was a little under a decade ago,” Martineau said. “It is time.”

Gale’s Kathy Hervol said that Algonquin’s track was installed in 1994.

In comparison, Hervol said the average maintained track is recoated about every eight years to last about 18 years in total.

“This track has not been resurfaced and is in really bad repair,” Hervol said. “It’s useful life has ended.”

She said the track will need to be “completely pulverized” and reconstructed.

The grass fields at Algonquin are also used a “tremendous amount,” Hervol said.

She added that, in time, the fields will become over-compacted from being played on, eventually meaning that the topsoil will not be able to produce grass.

“Not only is it not fun to play on and the balls don’t go as well, but it can become a safety concern, as well,” Hervol said.

Outside of the track and the fields, Hervol noted that Algonquin’s tennis courts were installed in 2004. She said they were in need of repair, noting areas where the courts were uneven and cracked.

What is proposed

Regional School Committee gets first look at ARHS athletic complex project
A rendering shows proposed updated athletic facilities at Algonquin Regional High School. (Photo/via Gale Associates)

Hervol said Gale is proposing a turf field and a new track for Algonquin’s main stadium area.

Staff are also proposing new bleachers, including a press box with a lift, and athletic lights. Under the plan, improvements would also be made to the field’s drainage system and site access, including Americans with Disabilities Act compliant means of access.

The nearby JV field would also become a turf field under Gale’s proposal. Gale is further proposing portable bleachers.

The nine tennis courts would additionally be replaced.

An amphitheater, which Hervol said could house community or school concerts, is also an option.

“The project isn’t just athletes, it’s for everybody,” Hervol said, noting the amphitheater possibility.

Next steps

Recently updated cost estimates project the total cost of this project to be $7.64 million.

Northborough and Southborough will split that bill in accordance with their regional school district funding agreement if this project goes forward.

That means Northborough would pay about $4.59 million. Southborough would pay $3.06 million.

Hervol said the plan is to make the improvements beginning next year.

She said Gale would like to begin work as soon as they could have access to fields with hopes to start in June and end in either mid-September or October.

School Committee member Joan Frank noted that this would impact practice fields, saying that the school would have to reach out to its towns to ensure that there wasn’t any impact on sports teams.

The committee voted to form an athletic complex committee on April 12.

There was a presentation of the project on display prior to Northborough’s Town Meeting Monday, with an additional presentation planned at Southborough’s upcoming Town Meeting as this approval process moves forward.

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