BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The physical state of the track and field at Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School remains a topic of discussion in the district, and board members are concerned about the high costs associated with fixing it.
Repairs to the track are budgeted at about $750,000, which business administrator Peter Starrs said is not the final estimate, but would include drainage and re-grading.
But board vice president Jackie Barlow said the district’s curriculum is not yett fully funded and that moving forward is a question of priorities, while board president Jill Gladstone said the track has safety issues.
Board member Barry Walker said he agrees with Barlow in that the track has been neglected for years. He also said that costs for a revamped, six-lane, all-purpose track would be “exorbitant.”
An asphalt track has been discussed, with costs of some $300,000 to $500,000 bandied about just for repairs on the interior field portion itself, which Walker said is in “abysmal” shape, plus the surrounding fencing. He also said the track has been put in the strategic facilities plan as a tentative item.
“I was the only one in disagreement with the track,” he said.
Barlow said it is “a lot of money,” and didn’t know exactly what funding recommendations have been accepted. Board member Jeffery Brookner said the track is “dirt,” while board member Ann Marie Mead agreed that it is a safety issue.
“It’s a marsh,” Brookner said.
There were fears voiced about the middle school track and field becoming a breeding ground for weeds, pits and mosquitoes, and Brookner added that the issue of fixing the facility has been delayed since he had first joined the board over a decade ago.
“At some point, it has to happen,” he said of repairs.
Repairs to just the track itself could cost around $200,000 considering an all-weather surface, according to Walker. It also remains to be seen if the drainage on the site is functional, among many items that board members said have to be addressed.
Board member Zachary Malek said he had competed on the middle school track, and had also sustained injuries there during his academic career.
“From personal experience, it needs to be done,” he said.
Walker reiterated that the middle school track and field is no longer safe, and added that those students would have to be bussed to the high school to compete. Brookner said he wondered about choosing the cheapest safe option, perhaps an asphalt track that would be simply serviceable, even if by state regulations it could not be utilized for track meets.
Walker said that if the field were to be fixed, it would be out of commission and unusable for about a year’s time. Brookner added that an artificial turf field had briefly been considered in the past, along with an all-weather track.
No final decision has been made.