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Residents Form Group to Advocate for Track, Multi-Use Field Project at Canton High School

Voters will decide in November whether town should bond for facility.

A group of Canton residents has gone on the offense when it comes to advocating for a proposed track and multi-use field facility at Canton High School.

Dubbed "On Track for Canton," the group is urging people to vote yes on Nov. 6. The ballot question asks residents whether the town should bond $3.6 million for the project, broken down as follows.

  • $2,092,000 on the 6-lane track with 8-lane spring area and enclosed multi-use synthetic field
  • $1,043,000 on parking lot and driveway improvements
  • $480,000 on design fees and contingency.

The entire cost of the project is actually an estimated $4.1 million but the Board of Finance trimmed $500,000 and The Board of Education agreed that funding for the scoreboard, bleachers and light poles/lighting could be raised separately. The lights would also require a zoning change or variance before they could be installed.

In its flyer the group also acknowledges annual maintenance of $14,000 and an estimated $74,000 per year that would be set aside for eventual surface replacement and long-term maintenance.

The track project has been somewhat controversial in town, with advocates saying a track and additional field space is needed and that it's good time for the town to sell municipal bonds, or "borrow" money due to low interest rates. They also contend that it will be good for the entire community.

Detractors argue the project is far from a necessity, especially during tough economic times. Some have argued it's too costly and/or that the town should take care of other infrastructure first. Several neighbors to Canton High School have also expressed concerns about the direct impact of the project.

"On Track" member Jonathan Webb, however, feels the majority of townspeople support it.

“We know the majority in town are for it; however it won’t happen unless everyone comes together and votes,” Webb said. 

To that end the group will hold a meeting Thursday, Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. at Canton Indoor Golf Center.

“We would love to see not only those with children that will benefit in future years but those whose children have graduated, or seniors who want to learn more about how they can help,” Webb added. 

The group also has a facebook page.

Despite the moniker of PAC on the facebook page, Web said the group is not a Political Action Committee and does not plan to raise $1,000, the threshold to register as one.

Webb said those interested in helping the group but can't make the meeting could also contact the following people.

The track is one of two capital projects that will be on the ballot.

The other is partial roof repair and replacement on all three schools and the community center. 

A proposed garage and road improvements will not be on the ballot. The boards of Finance and Selectmen had moved those forward and selectmen set one ballot question for the two projects. However, selectmen pulled the plug after appraisals for 5 Cherry Brook Road, the proposed garage site, came in lower than the proposed purchase price. At the time it was too late to send a new question to the secretary of state's office for inclusion on the ballot.

For the projects on the ballot, there are several meetings residents can attend. 

 The school district is also hosting the following meetings: 

  • Oct. 10, 2012 - Canton Middle School PTO Meeting, 7 p.m., Canton
  • Middle School
  • Oct. 16, 2012 - Special Board of Education Meeting, 6 p.m., Canton
  • High School Library

In addition, on Oct 24 at 7 p.m., an official town meeting will give residents the chance to learn more and comment on the proposals. The meeting will then adjourn to a referendum on Election Day, Nov. 6. 

More information and exact ballot wording can be found at http://www.townofcantonct.org/content/74/14584.aspx

Canton Taxpayer October 10, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Exactly Wendy.
Betty October 10, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Yes, it was moved when the roads were bundled with the garage.
Betty October 10, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Jen, What you are suggesting is often referred to as visitors. Visitors would have helped many businesses that have closed, or moved out of Canton. To make the most of visitors Canton needs more lodging, otherwise when visitors come to events in Canton we stand the chance of loosing their spending dollars to neighboring towns where they will be spending the night.
Wyatt October 10, 2012 at 09:26 PM
@Betty. It is highly unlikely that people coming to the track will be staying at a local hotel. Second, whether or not Canton has enough lodging has nothing at all to do with this issue.
Ryan November 05, 2012 at 11:56 PM
I cannot see how anyone could actually vote yes for this track. It will cost the taxpayers millions of dollars for a luxury item for the schools when there are far more pressing issues, like roads that are in extreme disrepair, a fire house that houses over 1 million dollars worth of life saving equipment that is obsolete and in need of much work, and a highway garage that is falling apart.

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