High School Track And Field Improvements Back On Agenda

Pitting and patching dominate the surface of the Amherst High School track. Photo: Art Keene

Improvements to the Amherst Regional High School athletic track and fields will be the subject of discussion at the next Regional School Committee meeting on January 18. According to a posted document, three scenarios are being reviewed for the renovation of the track and fields:

  1. Renovate the existing track, at an estimated cost of $1.2 million.
  2. Pivot the track to a north/south orientation with a natural turf interior field and expand the track to eight lanes on the sprinting strait, at an estimated cost of $3.6 million.
  3. Pivot the track to a north/south orientation with a synthetic turf interior field and expand to eight lanes on the sprinting strait, at an estimated cost of $4.65 million.

Two funding options are suggested and the apportioned costs to each town in the regional district (Amherst, Pelham, Leverett, and Shutesbury) is provided. One option is to fund the work entirely through the schools using the regional agreement method for capital cost assessment. Another is to fund a third of the cost using each town’s Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds, a third via the regional schools capital assessment, and a third from the Town of Amherst, since the track and fields are located in Amherst and serve as a community resource.

$157,500 in Amherst CPA funds was approved for the project in June 2020. A 2019 athletic facilities master plan by Weston & Sampson estimated the total cost of the first phase (which included relocating and reconstructing the track and the multi-use field within it) between $3.9 and $6.2 million. At a School Committee meeting in May 2019, a number of concerned parents and community members spoke about the dangerous condition of the track and schools’ sports fields, which had caused cancellations of soccer, field hockey, and lacrosse events.

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