Regional School Committee Approves Reoriented Track and Field Renovation


The Regional School Committee endorsed Option 3c for the track and field renovation at their meeting on June 25. This option includes an eight lane track, reoriented north-south and with a natural grass infield. It also inclueds an additional playing field adjacent to the track. Photo:

Jennifer Shiao’s School Committee Blog

Editor’s note: . Jennifer Shiao is a member of the Amherst School Committee. Her original posts can be found here.  An archive of her blog posts in The Indy can be found here.

I am pleased to report that at our June 25 meeting, the Regional School Committee (RSC) unanimously approved “Option 3C” for the ARHS Track and Field project. This option would re-orient the track to a north-south layout, create a natural-grass regulation-sized field inside the track, and provide an additional natural-grass field adjacent to the new track and field. In addition, the completed project would meet the necessary regulations to hold a track and field meet, and be ADA accessible.

The district has not yet secured the total funding required for this project (around $4.1 million), however the process can proceed by having a number of “Add Alternates” – items that can be delayed to allow funding to be secured at a later date. The Add Alternates proposed include lighting, curbing and sidewalk, ball safety netting, and reducing the scope of the fencing. This memo from Interim Superintendent Doug Slaughter lists the Add Alternates, as well as the motion that was passed by the RSC.

The RSC strongly urged the interim superintendent to pursue CPA (Community Preservation Act) funding from each of our four towns (Amherst, Leverett, Pelham, and Shutesbury).

According to the current project schedule, construction of the track and field is expected to completed by fall 2025.

This blog reflects my own views about the Amherst and Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committees – it does not represent the view of the committees, the district, or the superintendent. This blog complies with Open Meeting Law, as long as a quorum of School Committee members do not engage in deliberations in the comments. Comments are welcome. I may respond to comments, but I will not respond to all comments. Sign up here using the “follow blog via email” form to be notified when I post a new entry.  You can email me at

Spread the love

6 thoughts on “Regional School Committee Approves Reoriented Track and Field Renovation

  1. Finally some good news! Fingers crossed that funding goes through and our town allocates money appropriately…..

  2. Jennifer thank you for all that you do! Such exciting news, especially after that outrageous town council meeting. To come down so hard on the RSC, while giving the Jones a blank check, it’s mind boggling! To all those at the school, stay strong!

  3. While it may take better advantage of the site overall, the north-south track layout shown in the above image is disadvantageous for at least 3 reasons:

    1) prevailing winds are from the west, giving a cross wind on the track straightaways. This is especially problematic for pole vault. Designers should move the pole vault runways to the south infield apron inside the track where they can be oriented east/west like the horizontal jump runways (on the north apron).

    2) there are no discus/javelin areas shown on the diagram. the current discus area is shown covered with new (relocated) playing field. If the throws are to be conducted on the track in-field (not recommended due to safety considerations) then sprinkler-system damage is a risk.

    3) it appears that 3 existing playing fields will be eliminated and only 2 added for a net loss of 1 playing field. Even if the newer fields have improved drainage and are better maintained, it’s not clear how losing 1 field is a net gain.

    It is unclear to me why this 3C is now the preferred option vs the cheapest option of simply resurfacing the track as-is (which should have happened 15 years ago on a normal maintenance schedule), or the admittedly more expensive option of artificial turf (which, yes, garnered much unsubstantiated criticism but would have greatly improved field conditions for lacrosse, field hockey and possibly soccer teams as well).

    Is this a case of the middle-cost option winning out simply because it was the most costly thing the towns/schools might be able to afford? That seems like an inappropriate reason to elevate it, given the current fiscal realities.

    And will the new track even going to be 8 or 9 lanes? Or include a steeple pit or hammer cage to increase potential for hosting non-HS meets? Or bleachers on the east side hill? Or a concession stand? Or restrooms?

  4. Thanks for this Eric. I hadn’t thought of most of this and I have to wonder why our consultants didn’t raise these questions.

    I have to disagree on the turf though. The documentation on the health and environmental hazards of turf are prodigiously well documented and the trend across the commonwealth is to eschew turf with an outright ban just around the corner.

    Eric Nazar is the track and cross country coach at Hampshire College and former girls track and cross country coach at Amherst Regional High School.

  5. As a 30+ year resident, and a former member of what was then the LSSE committee, and a member of the working group that first developed these plans, I hope future and current YEARLY budgets include adequate funds to properly water and maintain two new grass fields. These require a lot of care and watering — and some time off each year — complete use prohibitions — to ensure long lasting life and safe playing conditions. This level of field care never happened with the current grass fields we already have. I hope we do not repeat the recent past here. Excellent athletic facilities will also pay off for everyone — attracting students and keeping students — all important budget considerations since there is school choice. Please remember these considerations when thinking of the yearly budget. Thank you.

  6. Interesting points, Eric. I would hope people involved in the track renovation take your input into account. Please make sure to share that with decision makers before the final touches:) We should definitely consider all aspects of a track meet!

Leave a Reply

The Amherst Indy welcomes your comment on this article. Comments must be signed with your real, full name & contact information; and must be factual and civil. See the Indy comment policy for more information.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.