BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Bridgewater-Raritan board of education approved a resolution for reconstruction work on the dilapidated and much-maligned track and field facility at Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School.
The final vote on the resolution was 6-2.
According to the resolution, the contract went to Flanagan’s Contracting Group, Inc., for $458,987.
Board member Zachary Malek asked about the composition of the new track, while Superintendent Russell Lazovick added that physical education classes use the track and the field, and plan to use them more.
Board member Barry Walker confirmed that the middle school does make use of the facility, although no baseball games have been scheduled for it due to a damaged backstop. Walker also said that an artificial turf pad could have cost around $600,000.
“There’s a lot of issues with the facility,” said Walker, who added that the field will be out of commission for a year’s time while undergoing reconstruction, and Lazovick said that teachers have said they were OK with that stipulation.
“It’s been neglected for some time,” Lazovick said.
Board member Melanie Thiesse said the entire field is a “swamp,” and that repairs to it are long overdue.
Board member A.J. Joshi added that the area surrounding the field also requires improvement, especially water run-off from neighboring homes.
“It’s an issue,” added Walker, who said he wonders how many middle schools actually have their own track.
He added that sometimes “band-aids” are used to make repairs to facilities, and that his concern is about utilizing facilities properly.
Board president Jill Gladstone asked about a “ballpark figure” for the cost of repairing the grass field alone, and for an asphalt track surface as opposed to a softer one. She also asked about an annual maintenance program for an asphalt track, and if the school board has done enough research on the matter.
Walker said the district engineer is OK with asphalt, and business administrator Peter Starrs added that a warranty for the track/field willl probably be for about two years.
Bridgewater-Raritan Education Association President Laura Kress, who works at the middle school as a social studies teacher, said she has heard comments about how poor the facility is now.
“It’s definitely a safety risk,” she said.
Kress said she also wants the district to have some pride in its facilities, and brought up the issue that middle school track and field student-athletes currently do not have uniforms.
“We’re taking a little heat,” she said.
Six of the eight board members present voted to ratify the resolution, with Walker and vice president Jackie Barlow voting against it. Barlow has spoken several times in the past about the track, and has said that she believes the board has greater spending priorities, even though she understands it is a matter of safety.