The Town Council approves a plan to further improve one of the premiere outdoor athletic facilities in the region -- at no additional cost to taxpayers. Work is scheduled to start this summer and finish before the fall sports season.
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GAUDET ATHLETIC COMPLEX
GETTING AN UPGRADE – AT NO NEW COST TO TAXPAYERS
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (MAY 20, 2021) – The athletic complex at Gaudet Middle School is getting a sweeping upgrade – at no new cost to taxpayers.
At a meeting Monday night, the Town Council approved separate contracts to redo the rubber track as well as repair and resurface the tennis and basketball courts on the Turner Road side of the school.
The work over the summer comes as Salve Regina University replaces the artificial turf field – also at no expense to the town -- as part of a long-standing agreement between the community and the Newport college.
Thanking the council for their support and quick action, Superintendent Rosemarie K. Kraeger said the projects were expected to start in about a month and be wrapped up by mid-August to avoid interfering with the beginning of the fall sports season.
“If we delay the track and not do it in conjunction with the turf field, we will be shut down even longer,” Kraeger said.
In recent years, the community has worked to improve the fields and athletic spaces offered throughout Middletown. This includes several baseball fields that had fallen into disrepair to the creation of new multipurpose fields on the former Starlight Drive-in next to Gaudet expected to be open for play this fall.
The Gaudet Athletic Complex has evolved over the past decade into one of the region’s premier public outdoor sports facilities, with multiple uses in one location. In addition to the turf field, track and plenty of parking, the complex has several practice fields, a full baseball field, basketball and tennis courts among other amenities.
Local leaders have said fixing what the town has allowed dollars to be stretched and made better use of existing resources. An analysis by the School Department indicated the track was at the end of its useful life and in need of improvement.
According to Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown, the refurbished track work by Cape and Island Tennis & Track of Pocasset, Massachusetts was slated to cost about $494,000. The project will be paid for using banked funds for work on a fishing pier and park proposed years ago along Burma Road by Greene Lane. The state Department of Environmental Management is expected to move forward on that project later this year. About $1 million remains dedicated in that account.
As for the tennis and basketball courts, Brown said issues with a large crack running down the middle of both were well documented. Cape and Island Tennis & Track will also be doing those repairs and resurfacing both playing areas for about $98,000. Money for that effort will come from payments made by Balfour Beatty Communities for emergency services to the Anchorage and Greene Lane neighborhoods.
By using the nonconventional payment options, Brown said the town won’t be taking on any additional debt with the work or added taxes.
“This is basically a pay-as-you-go financing avenue,” Brown said.
In addition to doing all the work at once, one of the major drivers for doing the upgrades now was the rising prices of building supplies. Brown and several council members said the longer the community waits to address the needs, the more all the work would cost.
Repeating his call for better long-term planning from the town, Councilman Christopher Logan said he’d like to see Middletown get ahead of its routine maintenance as much as possible.
“Price and materials are going up,” Logan said. “As I’m going through a construction project right now, I’m feeling that pain every time we need to buy another 2x4, so I can only image the prices for this.”