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April 15, 2014

Upgrade to athletics facilities to be discussed

Funding plan to go before Town Meetings for voter approval

WEST NEWBURY — Voters who want to learn more about a proposed $2.6 million upgrade to athletic facilities for the Pentucket Regional School District, before funding the plan is considered at Town Meetings, can attend an informational session at the high school this week.

Project consultants Gale Associates will lead the meeting, slated for tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.

Superintendent Jeff Mulqueen is touting his “Athletic Complex Revitalization Plan” as a way to “transform the tired and, in some cases, unusable facilities” for track, tennis, softball, field hockey and outdoor practice.

Pentucket’s new business manager Greg Labrecque says he has designed a way to fund the project without any additional cost to taxpayers. But the former Groveland finance director is getting pushback from a member of the school board who represents the town he used to fiscally manage.

The Pentucket district is made up of Merrimac, West Newbury and Groveland.

As part of his ongoing strategy for “building a world-class education experience,” Mulqueen seeks to improve the district’s secondary school campus with an 8-lane track with grass infield and six tennis courts ($1,642,229), and fields for softball ($324,034), field hockey ($309,114) and all-purpose ($351,998.) The total estimated cost is $2,627,375, including 10 percent for contingencies.

Voters will consider Labrecque’s three-pronged approach for funding the new complex at Annual Town Meetings on April 28.

Voters will first be asked to revisit a vote taken in 2012 (which authorized spending up to $700,000 to repair or renovate the track and tennis courts on the secondary campus) because the consultants have indicated the intended work could not be completed for that amount.

Instead, the district wants to broaden wording for the authorization beyond just track and tennis to allow the funds to be used for “athletic field improvements, acquisition of land and construction and development of the athletic plan.”

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