WALLINGFORD — Efforts to move the Lyman Hall athletic complex project forward are on hold due to funding limitations, according to several school board members.
The Board of Education met in executive session Monday night to review two plans for the complex. The biggest difference is the size of the track. One plan calls for a six-lane track, while the other has an eight-lane track. The more expensive eight-lane track would allow Lyman Hall to host state meets.
“The complex is a big-ticket item,” said board member Joe Marrone. “There’s a whole master plan involving a field house, turf field and whatever size of the track.”
The project, which school officials have said could take four or five years to complete, includes a new track, an all-weather turf field, new lights, handicapped-accessible bathrooms, a weight room and covered pavilion areas. In the past, school officials have estimated the project would cost $1.2 million. Over the past couple of months, board members and school officials have said they do not want to publicly discuss cost estimates because it could lead to higher bids.
The only funding the board has for the complex is the $300,000 to replace the track. The track, which is over 16 years old, is in a “state of disrepair,” creating a safety issue for students, Marrone said. The town’s state representatives have laid the ground work for up to $525,000 in state funding that would need approval from the state Bond Commission. Before the school system could be eligible, a detailed plan would have to be submitted. Bond Commission approval can take months, sometimes years.
“We can’t afford any of it, to be honest, aside from the $300,000 for the track,” said board member Kathy Castelli. “We don’t have the funds to do much else.”
Board members asked Building and Grounds Supervisor Marc Deptula to present more information at another executive session to be held in the near future, including the possibility of reducing the project, Marrone said. Castelli said that she wants the board to pursue the entire project in phases.
“Personally, I would like to see everything laid out. If we had unlimited funds, what would it look like?,” Castelli said. “Start there and parcel it out over phases.”
Deptula could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo said the board will most likely continue discussions on Dec. 3. The session will also include the architect.
Board of Eduction Chairwoman Roxane McKay said the board has to meet soon to make a decision soon to be eligible for state and federal grants. The deadline for one possible grant is two weeks away.
“Our backs are sort of on the wall in terms of grant writing,” she said.
The project won’t move forward until the board agrees on one design plan and the buildings that are needed, McKay said.
“We have to look at all of our options of where we can come up with that money,” Castelli said. “We want to make that complex so 10 years down the road we don’t look back and say, ‘Oh, why didn’t we do that?’ ”