After a thorough examination of Attleboro High School’s current athletic facility, one engineering firm has recommended $1.4 million in renovations. During Monday night's sub-finance committee meeting, William Seymour of Gale Associates, Inc., an engineering consulting firm based in Weymouth said the main issue with the facility is the "archaic design" of the width of the current field and the degradation of the current track surface.
“It’s got a lot of potential, it just needs an update,” Seymour said.
The field currently has a width of the field is 104 feet, which makes it difficult to use for lacrosse and soccer, according to both Seymour and Attleboro High School Athletic Director Mark Houle.
“It plays great football, poor lacrosse and very poor soccer,” Seymour said.
He also said that the track surface has “outlived its usefulness” since it can only be expected to last 25 to 30 years and the current surface has already hit the 30 year mark.
The asphalt surface has shrunken due to the years of use and repeated exposure to the harsh New England whether and that has resulted in many cracks, dips and erosion to its surface. Additionally, the inside edge of the track has eroded so much so that the inside lane is right on the edge of the infield, which presents little room for error and increases the possibility of injuries, such as rolled ankles, to runners if they step off the track.
The proposed renovation to the facility would result in a widening of the track to a 120-foot radius from its current 104-foot radius. That would allow for more space for sports, other than football, as well as allow for eight track lanes on the straightaway, which would enable the school to host larger track meets.
Changes come with the $1.4 million price-tag, but it also comes with a big move. It would necessitate the movement of the current visitors’ bleachers. Neither the home or visitor bleachers are up to current Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility standards, according to Seymour. And while they are currently grandfathered in any movement or renovation to the bleachers would require them to be brought up to code.
The home bleachers would not need to be moved with the new proposed configuration and therefore wouldn’t need to be renovated. If they were renovated it would cost the district between $350,000 and $375,000, Seymour told the committee.
Since the project is still in its early planning stages, the funding aspects have not been hammered out, but the idea of selling the field's naming rights was mentioned as one possibility to fund the project.
Additionally, Seymour and Houle said the new field, which would use artificial infill turf similar to what is used at Gillette Stadium, would allow more opportunities to rent it out for use.
“We want to use it as much as possible, and right now I don’t think it gets used as much as it could,” Houle said.
If approved, the expected length of construction would last from the end of spring sports in May until the end of August, in time for the start of football season.