KENNEBUNK – A new six lane track with eight sprint lanes, a new natural grass practice field, proper drainage for Memorial Field and new turf there, lights, new bleachers and more – all part of an athletic complex renovation at Kennebunk High School – is expected to get underway in a few months, pending voter approval.
Voters in Regional School Unit 21 will consider the overall budget for the coming year at the annual district May 16 at Kennebunk Elementary School. Included as a separate budget warrant article will be a request to transfer $2.8 million from unallocated funds to capital reserves to help pay for the project, said RSU 21 Board Chair Art LeBlanc at an open house on the project March 30. If the RSU 21 budget is approved May 16, voters district-wide in Arundel, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport cast validation votes June 14.
If approved, construction is expected to commence the latter part of June, with a view to completing most of the work by Dec. 23. The track surface would be completed in the spring of 2023.
Overall, the athletic complex project cost is $4.2 million, which includes a 10 percent contingency. The district allocated $250,000 for repairs to the track in 2015 that were not expended, and in 2020, the school board put $1.2 million into the fund from money left over from a construction project.
LeBlanc said the $2.8 million will not deplete the capital reserves, and he said overall, the district will devote $3.2 million to tax relief for the three communities.
And there is a local fundraising component – a drive to raise $250,000, which has already reached $130,000, LeBlanc said.
The contractor, Heimlich Landscape and Construction of Woburn, Mass., was chosen by the school board earlier this month.
The renovated athletic complex will mean the district will be able to host track meets at home – something that has not been able to happen for the past four years, said Athletic Director Joe Schwartzman. And there have been times when the field is in such poor condition that football games have had to be held elsewhere, he said.
According to information provided by the district, the bid includes virgin EPDM infill material and proper maintenance equipment and extra material for keeping proper infill density for safety.
The track is 16 years-old. ome of the bleachers are 60 years old, and the rest more than 33 years old. The bleachers are not code compliant and at one point in 2013 were deemed unsound. The RSU has invested more than $50,000 in safety repairs to the bleachers since 2018, district officials say.
The stadium lights and poles at Memorial Field, where football and soccer are played, were donated to the school in 1988. The poles have woodpecker damage. The field hockey facility has no lights.
The Open House event about the project drew a modest but interested crowd.
“This is going to be a great thing for the kids coming up through the system,” said John Hackett, who coached his own children in Little League and Hoops and is now coaching his grandchildren.
“It’s long overdue in my book,” said Jason Nadeau after hearing the presentation. “It’s a great thing.”