MERIDEN —The City Council’s Finance Committee unanimously approved bonding $1.8 million for renovations of the aged tracks and athletic fields at Platt and Maloney high schools.
The project will cost a total of $4 million, however, the city plans to use about $2.2 million leftover from renovations at Platt and Maloney to offset the costs. The city is also expected to receive some reimbursement from the state, bringing the renovation’s total additional cost to about $1.5 million, officials said.
The project, approved by the committee 5-0 Monday night, calls for replacing the tracks and installing synthetic turf athletic fields.
The high school tracks were constructed in 1990 and have exceeded their 20-year life expectancy. Both athletic fields, comprised of natural grass, have safety issues and cannot be used in wet conditions.
“There's no question it has to be done,” Councilor Cathy Battista said of the renovations.
Several school officials and employees — including athletic directors from both high schools, band supervisors, parents, and administrators — spoke in favor of the project during a public hearing held before the council meeting.
Former Platt football coach Tom Ryan, who was on a committee that oversaw the renovations of Falcon Field, said Meriden will “have some of the worst athletic facilities in the state” in five years without the renovations.
Platt Athletic Director Richard Katz said cracks appear on the school’s track annually but because of the track’s “rotting subsurface,” the patchwork to repair the crack peels off in two weeks.
Katz listed off other advantages to installing synthetic turf, including reduced maintenance costs and less cancellations of practices and games because the natural grass field needs to dry out.
Brian Cyr, band director at Maloney High School, said the turf fields will also benefit the bands, which use the fields “10 to 25 hours per week from August to November.”
Over 30 percent of Maloney’s field has been “reduced to dirt,” Cyr said, and needs to be closed each year from the end of winter to August for maintenance and grass regeneration.
Project representatives from the firm Milone & MacBroom, of Cheshire, presented project designs and cost estimates to the committee Monday.
Representatives from the firm said they did not include a midfield logo in their designs because they wanted to keep costs down, but committee members expressed a desire for a midfield logo and voted to increase the project budget by $30,000 in total for the logos.
Project architect Kevin Fuselier said the price of a logo can range per field from $5,000 for a single letter to $35,000 for an elaborate logo.
The project still requires approval from the City Council and will also need approval from the state because the city will receive reimbursement.
If the project is ultimately approved, the city hopes to put construction out to bid in March.