2017-03-20 / Front Page

RunBrunswick seeks to redo track

Group hoping to raise nearly $1M for facility’s reconstruction
BY JULIETTE LAAKA
Times Record Staff

BRUNSWICK

While the Brunswick High School track is shuttered for competition, a group of community members has formed with the goal of raising nearly a million dollars for its reconstruction.

Barry Logan, president of the group Run- Brunswick, introduced the organization and its plans Thursday to the town’s finance committee. The group formed in January in an effort to support the proposed track and filed renovation project.

“The track is more than 20 years old and has exceeded its lifespan,” Logan said, adding they plan to embark on a one- to two-year fundraising campaign. The track renovation is expected to cost about $850,000, according to an estimate by Huntress Associates Inc., an athletic facility design firm based in Andover, Massachusetts.

Logan did not say what the group may ask the town to contribute financially, but said the group wants to work in partnership with the town toward the renovation goal. He said he wants to discuss the value of the facility to the community as a whole, and reiterated he is sensitive to budget constraints the town is facing.

RunBrunswick has applied for nonprofit status, so donations will be tax deductible, and has been working on community outreach and forming a board of directors. The group is holding a public meeting March 28 at Hawthorne School at 6:30 p.m for those interested in learning more about the organization and its plan.

Logan said nationally, track and field programs are the second most popular sports for high school males, second to football, and is the most popular sport for girls.

“Track is uniquely inclusive, it takes in all comers and is organized to do so, and one aspect of the sport I love is that all finishers feel good about their performances, and brings people together in a way other sports are challenged to do,” Logan said.

According to 2015-16 data compiled by Brunswick High School Athletic Administrator Jeff Ramich, 65 athletes participated in winter track and 79 athletes in spring session. This season, 91 students participated in winter track, and he expects about 80 will join the spring team.

The group said the track is not a niche facility, that it supports the junior high and high school programs, as well as community use.

Town Councilor Steve Walker asked Logan whether the group has done a feasibility study on how to raise nearly a million dollars for the project, and Logan replied they have not yet, but are in contact with Freeport, who successfully raised money for their own track project this year.

Councilor Jane Millett said she is pleased to hear track and field are popular activities for high school athletes, especially girls, adding it promotes lifelong activity, but said she does have concerns about the budget and those living on fixed incomes.

“But I would give a personal check to support it,” Millett said.

Councilor David Watson said historically, track and field has been the leader in participation for both genders, and, while holding up a piece of the track at the meeting, said you could almost see through the rubber piece of track.

“This is why the track is closed today,” he said.

Watson, who was a track athlete and former coach at Brunswick, Mt. Ararat and Freeport high schools, said when the original track was built, it was made possible by community donations and support, adding the community should be involved in this project as well. He clarified, however, he has personal opinions about the track that differ from his opinions as a councilor representing townspeople.

“Maybe a matter of priorities is the best way to put it,” he said, explaining that although the track is important to him, it is not as urgent as the fire department’s needs.

Brunswick School Superintendent Paul Perzanoski said the track is not considered safe for some events, and that it is closed for competition. The high school’s teams will have home meets at neighboring districts, he said.

There is no money for the reconstruction in the operating budget, the superintendent said, but there is a half million in a capital improvement program that could go toward the project if the town council agreed to it. The council could vote to do that anytime before the end of the fiscal year in June, he said. The most favorable option, said, is for RunBrunswick to raise the necessary funds without a share of the project supported by taxpayers.

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