- FUN FEATURES
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Earlier this month, voters rejected additional funding to replace the track at Cheshire High School, leaving officials with the question of what happens next.
Residents rejected the $325,000 request on Election Day, the lone referendum item out of five that did not pass. There has already been an allocation of $150,000 for the track replacement, but that funding was not nearly enough to do the entire project. With the additional funds that were required to complete the project being rejected by the voters, officials are trying to produce a course of action for the inevitable replacement of the CHS track.
"We are evaluating what the options are," explained Superintendent of Schools Dr. Greg Florio. "Given that the funding isn't there, we can't do a complete repair."
The track can still be used, but for how long is now the main question. Also, it's unlikely the repairs would be done in stages, as future work could disrupt previous work and, thus, result in a waste of taxpayer money. There is a possibility that work could be done in the D-Zone, which is "one of the worst areas" Florio explained, since "we can't do half a track." Florio noted, however, that, even if they do use a portion of the money to repair a certain aspect of the track, the request for more funding will be made again next year.
"I don't think we can delay this. I don't think there is a repair that, if we do it, puts off (the project) another three or four years," Florio said. "We could use some of the money for the architectural phase and get firm costs. We'll find out exactly what it will cost to fix the track."
Board of Education member Tony Perugini explained that, during a Planning Committee meeting last week, the issue of doing some drainage was brought up. Perugini was originally a supporter of such a move, but then learned installing curtain drains along the track would render it virtually useless, as saw cuts and other damage would be done to the surface.
"We just don't have enough money to get it done right," he said. "We could ruin the track by putting drains in."
As for why voters did not approve the funding, Florio said it could be something as simple as ballot placement. The track question was listed last, and it is possible that some residents didn't want to approve all five projects, so they just voted “No” on question five, Florio said.
"Maybe there was a fatigue factor and people wanted to say no to something," Florio stated. "Maybe they felt they couldn't say yes to everything."
Florio did not believe the project was lumped in with the artificial turf project, which has supporters and detractors within the community. There is certainly some overlap between the two projects, however, with drainage being a major component of both. Yet, Florio felt that, while the school could work in concert with the turf committee, the track repairs would remain a separate, taxpayer-funded project.
"The responsibility of funding needs to be from the Capital Budget, not from fundraising, in my opinion," he said.
The connection between the two projects remains since, if the track is installed first, ramps would have to used to carry machinery across the surface. If the turf if installed first, then portions of the field might have to be peeled back for the track drainage. The track should hold up for another year, said BOE member Tod Dixon, before adding, "it's like you're damned if you do, damned if you don't."