The New Canaan Town Council on Thursday unanimously approved funding for the track replacement project at New Canaan High School, along with the “Water Tower Turf One” and “Water Tower Turf Two” projects and the Mead Park baseball fields project.
Each of the projects will require bonding; the actual bonding resolutions will be drafted and voted up or down by the council at a later date. Remarkably, local families and youth sports organizations including the New Canaan Athletic Foundation (NCAF) raised more than $2.3 million in private donations that will be used to off-set the cost of three of the five projects.
The high school track replacement project will require an appropriation of $1.75 million which will be fully funded through the issuance of bonds. This involves resurfacing the track and expanding it from six to eight lanes. The project would also re-orient the track so that the finish line is where the stands are located.
Separately, but integral to the track replacement project, the council also approved the “installation of optional upgrades” for the track – including new bleachers and low-level lighting that would allow the track to be used during the evening hours. This part of the project, estimated at $350,000, is to be fully funded with private donations raised by the NCAF.
The Water Tower Turf One project, which involves turfing the existing grass field at the center of the track, will be fully paid for by the town and will require up to $850,000 in bonding.
The Water Tower Turf Two project, which involves the construction of a new turf field next to the track, will require up $500,000 in bonding. The estimated total cost of this project is about $2.3 million, with the remainder being financed with private donations.
The Mead Park Baseball Fields project will also require about $500,000 in bonding. The total cost is estimated at $950,000, with the remainder to be funded with private donations via New Canaan Baseball.
In the case of the projects involving private donations, the town will stipulate in its bonding resolutions that the bonding will be secured only once the private funds are in place.
It is anticipated that the track and turf field projects will commence this summer.
Following the round of approvals, council vice chairman Stephen Karl noted that 95% of the bonds that will be issued to fund the projects will be 10-year bonds as opposed to the 20-year bonds that are typical of school and road construction projects. He pointed out that 10-year bonds not only get paid off faster, they generally carry lower interest rates than 20-year bonds.
Earlier in the meeting, the council briefly discussed a short list of other capital projects also to be funded via bonding, including improvements to school buildings, a proposal to bring emergency power to the bus building, and improvements to school playgrounds, however, those items will get further review and a vote in May.