During Wednesday evening’s Parks & Recreation Commission meeting, members of the Commission heard an update on the latest in the effort to replace the aging Wilton High School stadium track. Parks & Rec director Steve Pierce presented pricing and options for a new track along with renderings and estimates that the Commission unanimously approved to forward to the Board of Selectmen for review.
Working in collaboration with P&R commission member John Macken and WHS athletic director Chris McDougal, Pierce had engaged a review of the project with Stantec, a design and engineering firm. Stantec has recommended Wilton install a nonporous “Benyon 300” track design in red, which has a 20-25-year life expectancy and a five-year warranty.
“It was based on a 20-year cost analysis, durability, and comfort for runners of all ages,” Pierce said.
The Benyon 300 product is the same type of track used at Harvard University and is said to hold up well in New England weather. As a nonporous surface, it won’t allow water to permeate to the blacktop below, and maintenance costs over time would be less than those associated with the Benyon 200, or the “step down” model. Pierce said that the manufacturer is well-known in the track industry.
He added that it’s a softer surface and would be good for the community at large that will use the track, in addition to competitive high school track athletes.
Pierce made the recommendation after evaluating comparable track surfaces, including more expensive options. Macken said that the goal was to recommend a track that would provide the most value to the town at an efficient cost–”making sure we got the best track for that number.”
The estimated cost for the recommended Benyon 300 red track is $1.114 million, which includes “sub-surface” work required to address the pitching of the area to enable water to sheath off of the track into drainage. It also works with the projected $1.2 million range the town had estimated track replacement would cost.
A blue track (with grey end zones) would increase the cost by $85,000; the option of adding grey exchange lanes would incur an additional $22,000. Pierce said to do so is a more labor-intensive process, which could also add to maintenance costs if/when any repainting or resurfacing would be needed in future years. However, WHS officials are interested in having a track with the exchange lanes.
Furthermore, Pierce said that if the town opted for the blue track, it would be a darker blue than what’s shown in the renderings.
Pierce told the Commission that the bidding could be done through the National Bid Board (as the town did when it replaced the turf fields at the stadium and Lilly Field). It also would potentially increase the five-year warranty to seven years. There would be a performance bond with financial penalties included as part of the contracting.
After approval from the P&R Commission, the proposal would move to the Board of Selectmen, who then would determine how to propose the project to the town, for consideration. If approved by the town, Pierce said the sooner it moves forward, the better pricing the town could secure.
“You’re going to get a better market price right now for next spring and you’re going to be able to lock in the dates you want for the construction of this track,” he added.
Commissioner Kevin Ring asked if a new track of this quality would increase the chances of the high school hosting more events–and bring more visitors to town as a result. Pierce said, “When you enhance any facilities and they’re new you’re going to attract people, and you’re going to attract people to the community who are runners. It’s not only for the high school, it’s for the community and you know how well that track gets utilized.”
Pierce requested that the Commission consider the proposal (Beynon 300 red track with contingency to add color based on final bids, costs, and economics) to move forward to the next step of the BOS reviewing the proposal. It did so, by a vote of 4-0-0.