SOUTHBOROUGH – Encouraged from current Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) students, voters at the Annual Town Meeting gave overwhelming approval to a $7.9 million project to upgrade the school’s athletic complex.
The project will be paid for with a 15-year bond to be held by the Northborough-Southborough Regional School District. Southborough’s share of the cost is $2,998,680 or 37%. This is based on Algonquin’s enrollment, according to the regional agreement.
Of that total, $246,418 will be paid for with Community Preservation Act money, as approved by Town Meeting voters one article prior. The remainder will be paid for with a property tax increase.
According to town officials, an average Southborough homeowner with a property valued at $901,559, would see an increase of $29 in their property tax bill in the 2025 fiscal year, $56 in the 2026 fiscal year, $88 in 2027 and $89 per year from 2028 to 2038.
The project was approved by the Regional School Committee at its March 15 meeting. Superintendent Greg Martineau said that the committee was prepared to award the general contracting bid, pending approval by voters in each of the member towns.
The project, which has been in the works for a decade, will include a new track, a new artificial turf stadium, an artificial turf multipurpose field, a new concession stand, new tennis courts, the addition of pickleball courts, a new press box, Americans with Disabilities Act compliant grandstands, new stadium lighting, landscaping and a multipurpose amphitheater.
According to Martineau, the track is no longer Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association compliant.
“The track was reconstructed in 1994, and the surface was recoated in 2009. The track’s base layer has failed and the top coat can no longer be repaired,” he said. “As a result, the track is unsafe and unusable for track meets.”
But the track team is not the only group impacted by the facility decay. ARHS senior Jack Battles, captain of the school’s cross country and lacrosse teams, said other teams are unable to practice at the school.
“Right now, my teammates on the lacrosse team are practicing at [the] 9/11 Memorial Field in Southborough … the only turf field we have available in the two towns,” said Battles. “I feel that this is an urgent matter. The field hockey team needs turf to practice, and they have to travel to Forechecks [in Marlborough] or 9/11 Memorial to be able to practice at all.”
Battles said he won’t be able to reap the benefits of the sports complex renovations, but he wants to see conditions improve for future Titans.
“I just want my teammates and everyone at Algonquin in the future to be able to have access to these amenities,” he said.
While the School Committee and the Southborough Select Board support the project, the Advisory Board has voted 4-1 to oppose it. Chair Andrew Pfaff said the board is hoping the town will approve an increase in the Community Preservation Act surcharge from one percent to three percent. This would trigger an increase in state matching grant funding from 38% to 48%, allowing the town to put more CPA funds into its share of the project and incur less debt.
Martineau warned against delaying the start of the project, citing rising construction costs. According to Martineau, estimated costs associated with the project when first considered in 2013 were around $3.6 million. Those specific project line items would cost just over $6 million in 2023.
Ben Schanzer, Algonquin Student Council president and co-captain of the Titans’ cross country team, said there is no reason to put the project off any longer. He spoke of choppy field conditions, “shattered” tennis courts and poor drainage that has forced the track team to practice on the streets after rainstorms.
“This improvement is really needed and it doesn’t make sense to delay it,” said Schanzer. “Costs will just keep going up over time.”
Regional School Committee approves $7.9M for Algonquin athletics complex project