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Canton Board of Education Advocates Inclusion of Complete Track, Field Project in Potential Bonding Package

Despite increased price tag, education officials say it is an important project.

The price tag may be higher than estimates from earlier this year but the Board of Education Tuesday agreed to request that a proposed track and mutli-use field at Canton High School be fully funded in November. Town boards have recommended that the project and three others go into a bonding package for November vote(s) but the Board of Finance has not made any final decisions.

This summer, the Board of Education hired Milone & MacBroom of Cheshire to come up with refined estimates for the project.

The company’s estimate for the track and field project is approximately $3.1 million, which includes the components, architectural, engineering and site work costs. It also provided numbers and details for parking lot improvements but those would come under a different portion of the bonding package. 

Vincent C. McDermott, senior vice president, landscaping architecture and planning with Milone & MacBroom, gave and overview of the project Tuesday.

Plans call for a regulation soccer sized field, which would accommodate other sports such as football and Lacrosse, he said.

The track as designed would still be six lanes all around but with an added eight-lane sprint section portion, allowing much more flexibility in meets, McDermott said.

It also calls for screening to help provide a buffer for nearby homes. Some aspects, such an extensive retaining wall and the height of field lighting would require approvals from town boards, he added. He said lighting would not be intrusive but would "glow." He added that some schools restrict the lighting hours, which helps the projects gain community acceptance, an idea school board members agreed with.  

The firm also investigated other issues with the track, for example, eliminating the possibility of placing it on the east side of the school due to wetlands issues and checking for contaminants, which were not found on site.

Initially, a town capital study group suggested the bonding proposal included a recommendation to bond for $1.2 million of a then-estimated $2.2 million track project.

The idea was that some of the items could be done later or come via fundraisings, grants, sponsorships and in-kind donations.

Like many projects proposed for bonding, the estimates given earlier in the year were preliminary. 

In addition, factors such as the need for a retaining wall and proper drainage helped drive up the project’s costs, McDermott said.

Board of Education chairwoman Beth Kandrysawtz said there has also been much talk over the summer as to whether it makes sense to do only a portion of the project through bonding.

While some items such as a scoreboard, bleachers or lights could be done at a later time, McDermott said the major pieces of the project should really be done as a whole. For example, the town could not start out with natural turf and then change to artificial without incurring huge costs, he said.

Lights could be added later but much of the infrastructure would have to be put in place due to configuration and limited space on the site, he added. You don’t want to drive heavy equipment on the track, he said.

Kandrysawtz then suggested the board ask the finance board to fund the entire project — or nearly all of it — in a bond package to which other members agreed. 

The scoreboard and bleachers may be two items that could be deffered, officials said. 

While the price is higher school officials said they still feel the facility will provide a much-needed resource. It addresses the shortage of fields due to the increased usage it can handle both in terms of hours a day and months per year.

McDermott said over its life span, a lit turf field is equivalent to 2 or 2 ½ natural grass fields.

Kandrysawtz acknowledged that there would still be resistance from some abutting property owners, she felt it would be good for the town.

“As it’s configured here, this does an amazing amount for the community, “ she said.

Athletic director Dee Stephan said she also feels people sometimes get lost in the numbers and forget what an asset the project would be for youth of the town.

“I think people have forgotten about the kids to some degree,” she said.

Earlier the capital study group recommended a total of four projects go into a bonding package and be presented to voters at a November referendum.

In the late spring, the projects including the track, new town garage and site, roof replacements and roadwork came with a working estimate of approximately $18 million. Now, however, officials are saying many of the projects are being estimated higher than originally thought.

Tonight the Permanent Municipal Building Committee will receive an update on the track, roofs and garage. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the community center.

The Board of Selectmen and finance will further discuss the projects next week. The finance board has not made a decision on the proposed bonding but had asked for firmer estimates. 

Selectmen and finance board members will meet next Monday as well. Specifics on the meeting time and place will be forthcoming. 

Robert August 15, 2012 at 05:24 PM
It appears as though our Federal spending habits have tricked down to Canton...
Andrew Ziemba August 15, 2012 at 05:30 PM
It ALWAYS costs more than estimated, and it's ALWAYS a TON more. Every time is it just a Coincidence? Athletic director Dee Stephan said she also feels people sometimes get lost in the numbers and forget what an asset the project would be for youth of the town. “I think people have forgotten about the kids to some degree,” she said. BWAAAAHHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHA! I bet a lot of people in this town WISH they could!
Cindy August 15, 2012 at 07:31 PM
After years of going over to Avon to trian on the track they built, I would love to be able to train in my own town. I don't think people really understand what a community asset an all weather track is. The Avon track is always in use by residents across the age groups. I use it to train for my twice a year physical fitness test that is required by the Army.
Wyatt August 15, 2012 at 08:07 PM
I hope the track gets built. Would be a great amenity for the town for both current and future residents.
Betty August 15, 2012 at 09:00 PM
This looks great, however I do not think Canton is in the position economically to commit to this at this time. Think in terms of numbers . . . Canton is the largest employer in Canton, and there are many wonderful thing that could happen in Canton with more revenue. The next time you hear a small business is opening, instead of thinking oh, we don’t need that; think of how many months that business will pay 1 teacher’s salary and how much we need that teacher.
Betty August 15, 2012 at 09:11 PM
In over 4 years Bloomfield has seen $1,591,396.73 in combined real estate and personal property taxes from Lowe's, Lowe's is also a known very generous corporate citizen. Had we worked with Lowe's we would have substantial revenue from a business that was not really visible, and most people thought was in Avon. In over 9 years New Britain has seen $3,929,220.72 in combined real estate and personal property taxes from Target. Had we worked with Target we would have substantial revenue, the most important historical home in Canton, and a better view. The Shoppes at Farmington Valley and it’s tenants are our #1, #3, & #4 taxpayers, they account for approximately 1/3 of our commercial tax base, or approximately 4% of the overall budget, or approximately $1,141,634.00 in taxes. The Shoppes at Farmington Valley has paid approximately $9,133,072.00 in taxes over the last 8 years. They enabled us to procure a bond to pay for the repairs needed to our schools. Canton Public Golf Course paid less than $35,000 annual taxes. Consider the many wonderful things that could happen in Canton.
Wyatt August 15, 2012 at 09:28 PM
@Betty. Great points. Canton needs more development to diversity and grow the tax base and the best form for doing that is more commercial development. Would be great to get more offices and professional buildings in Canton.
Betty August 15, 2012 at 10:46 PM
We do not have a great deal of commercial land available in Canton. East Granby has more than 350 acres of property zoned for commercial and industrial use. We are competing with area towns that have spent the last several years making changes to become business friendly. They have created new zoning regulations, gotten grants for water and sewer to make their commercial districts more desirable, and have promoted their town. Area towns have been aggressively pursuing businesses and developers. Check out Burlington's Economic Development web pages. Some towns are shovel ready or are headed in that direction. Many people: our land use boards, POCD Update Committee, and town staff are working very hard to make it easier for both small and large businesses to open and remain open in Canton. We are playing catch up to other area towns, Canton is a great place and we will get there. Currently Canton has approximately 13 buildings for sale, approximately 55 spaces for lease and approximately 18 parcels for sale. Filling these vacancies would make Canton more vibrant, it wold help the local economy and make Canton more desirable to people considering moving a business here.
Andrew Ziemba August 16, 2012 at 01:03 AM
There will never be another "Canton Public Golf Course". There WILL be another Lowe's, The Shoppes, and Target. The reason the Canton Public Golf Course is gone is taxes to keep it, and that is a FACT (go ask). I'd rather see them pay NO taxes and still be around. The question should never be "how can we get more tax revenue?" The question should be "how can we convince people to pay for only what they use and opt out of services that they don't use?" Then and only then will we have optimal, equal prosperity for all. The idea of forcing people to pay for services that they don't use strangles investors, entrepreneurs, and people who are trying to climb out of the lower middle class. “There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.” ― Robert A. Heinlein The simple fact is, if Canton continues on the route that it is going NOBODY will live here or do business here unless they have children in the school system. If I was wealthy and had children in our school system I would be furious. If you look at how much money is spent per kid you would think we offer field trips to the moon. Well I guess that's what you get when you legalize theft by masking it through "helping kids learn".
Andrew Charron August 16, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Betty is correct and as a member of EDA this town needs to allow for businesses to grow and flourish in town to support inevitable inflation of expenses. The track project should be voted on separately and stand on it's own merits so I agree wtih Andrew Z that each voter should have a say in this process. The major concern from my perspective is the bundling of these projects together does not allow for voters to voice their opinion on each issue. The roads, roofs, garage and track are not intertwined and should be looked at on their own merits. I urge everyone to let the BOS and BOF know that these projects need to be approved by the voters individually. I personally have been to both the track and garage meetings recently and the costs seem high for both. An $8m garage just does not make sense for this town and I would urge us to find better alternatives. The track is a little high as well but the benefits are imense for not just our children but everyone in town from a fitness level. There is a meeting this coming Monday to discuss the CIP projects and all of us should attend to become informed voters. Regardless if you are for or against any of the projects we should all be engaged in the process.
Canton Taxpayer August 16, 2012 at 07:01 PM
No kidding.....spend spend spend....all the talk about 'for the children' and guess what? those kids will still be paying for it if - IF - they stay in Canton....
Canton Taxpayer August 16, 2012 at 07:03 PM
LOL....no kidding. And originally the 'for the children' folks said 'one little million dollar' track. Now it's $3.1m....and no more talk about fundraisers and donations to make up the previous $1 million shortfall....
Canton Taxpayer August 16, 2012 at 07:07 PM
I agree they should NOT bundle this all into one request for $22m in debt, but for different reasons. I've been to both meetings as well and while the $7m garage is costly, the land and site work issues are the cost-drivers. The track & field - well - that's just a bonus for a rich town.....which Canton is not.
Betty August 16, 2012 at 07:37 PM
I think Andrew C. and Andrew Z. make some very good points. It is a very good idea that everyone voting in November: 1) Have a very clear understanding of what our financial needs will be over the next 10 years. We all need to understand the big picture. 2) I am looking forward to reading the responses to the Community Facilities portion of the POCD Update Committee. What does the BOE foresee their expenses to be over the next 10 years? We need to understand how the track and possible pool fit in to our expenses over the next 10 years. We do not want to see any surprises. We want to have an explanation on the town website of what recommendations are being made and why. Example, why does this bonding package only addresses 7 million of the of the $17,880,000. backlog of deferred road maintenance in Canton? 4) An easy link to the Pavement Management Report, and the Capitol Project Committee Report, and other relevant reports. 5) Be able to vote on each item on it’s own merits.

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