TOWNSEND -- Less than a year after a push to build a turf field fizzled, the North Middlesex Regional School District will get a second chance to build one at the high school.
In a unanimous vote, the School Committee advanced the project to install a field that would serve the school's sports teams, physical education classes, and the community and be used 300 days out of the year.
"It's a big step, but it's a step in the right direction," said district Athletic Director Cameron Fisk, who presented the fields project to the School Committee during an April 30 meeting.
He proposed a plan for the athletics department to fund the field at North Middlesex Regional High School independently without taxpayer support.
An estimated cost for the field is about $450,000, Fisk said. Through a tax-exempt municipal lease over 10 years, the yearly cost would be under $50,000.
Revenue to support the field would come from game tickets and fees to participate in school sports.
A rubber turf field could also help prevent sports injuries since it can absorb shock, Fisk said.
The goal is to have the field complete by the Fall 2018 sports season, Fisk said. It would need to be replaced within 10 to 15 years.
Last year, North Middlesex proposed a turf field at the high school that cost about $1.8 million.
The project needed approval from the three towns in the district at their 2017 spring town meetings. Ashby voted down the project.
The School Committee vote authorizes the district's Building Committee to issue an order for contractors to stop work on the current sod field and the district to put the project out to bid to install and lease the field.
In addition to the turf field, the Building Committee is considering whether to renovate about 25,000 square feet of the old high school building as a gymnasium, locker rooms, bathrooms, snack shop, and district office space.
Currently, the estimate for the athletic alternate design proposal is at least $5 million.
The committee is expected to make a decision Monday.
If it receives a more exact cost estimate that is feasible for the district, the committee could approve it. If it passes on the proposal, building demolition will continue as planned.
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