How will this project be funded?
Each community will have a financial cost that will be supported through bonding. Potential grant funding, sponsorships, and donations are being investigated and pursued. Each community will be responsible for its share of the cost based on the Regional Agreement, which is based on the enrollment from each community to Algonquin Regional High School over the preceding four years. Northborough is responsible for 62.33% and Southborough is responsible for 37.67%.
What is the estimated impact to taxpayers of the proposed ARHS Athletic Complex Project on the median home?
The Financial Subcommittee has reviewed a variety of cost models on how the general obligation bond for the Athletic Complex Project will impact each of the towns. If the full amount of the project is bonded, each community will be assessed their portion of the debt payment annually based on enrollment percentages. The estimated cost per year per household will range between $80-90 for both Northborough and Southborough residents.
Has the Athletic Complex Project Committee sought out sponsors and private donors?
At this time, no sponsors or private donors have committed to the project. Once Gale Associates, Inc., our engineering and consulting firm, completes the one-hundred percent cost estimates, the Committee will actively seek sponsors and private donors in accordance with the Northborough-Southborough Regional School Committee’s Advertising, Donations, and Sponsorship (K-240) policy. Interested parties should email - Keith Lavoie - Assistant Superintendent of Operations - email@example.com
What is the cost of not moving the project forward?
The current athletic complex has been an asset to the community and has seen tremendous use over the past twenty-five years. It is now beyond its end of life and needs to be replaced. The lighting, track, and tennis courts need to be replaced regardless of whether the project is approved, which is anticipated to cost over $2.5 million dollars. Additionally, any work on the current field would require the facility to be made ADA-compliant, which includes upgrading the stadium seating and adding restrooms to the current amenities building. Other costs associated with not moving forward are renting space for our track and field programs, transportation costs, and finding alternative field locations for evening games.
Athletic Fees are collected to operate the athletic program - what do those fees pay for?
The athletic fees offset the operational cost of the current Athletic Program. The operational budget supports 80% of the total program costs, and the athletic fees funds the difference -20%. A breakdown of athletic fees can be found on the District website.
Are there revenue-generating opportunities to offset the cost of the project?
Yes. Using the Northborough-Southborough Regional School Committee’s Facilities Rental Agreement, the District would be able to rent the facilities with greater flexibility and frequency. At present, rental opportunities are limited on how much usage the fields experience. The grass fields need time to rest. Based on the “field usage” data provided later in this document, the move to a turf surface would significantly expand the District’s ability to rent the fields to non-school organizations.
What are the Algonquin athletic teams that are currently displaced by the conditions of the athletic facility?
Algonquin Field Hockey utilizes the New England Baseball Complex turf facility for a cost of $9,150 per season. 65% is covered by the athletic department, and 35% is covered by field hockey boosters.
In the event of inclement weather during the fall season, the following teams:
- Boys and girls soccer and football, relocate practices to an indoor or outdoor turf facility including but not limited to the following: New England Baseball Complex, 9/11 Field in Southborough, St Mark's School in Southborough, Teamworks in Northborough, and ForeKicks in Marlborough. The amount per hour ranges from $90.00 - $225.00, depending on the facility. Soccer and football typically practice on an average of four times a year, and this includes a two-hour time slot.
In the event that the Algonquin fields are not playable to start the spring season and/or due to inclement weather during the spring season, the following teams:
- Boys and girls lacrosse relocate to use an indoor or outdoor turf facility including but not limited to the following:
- 9/11 Field in Southborough;
- St Mark's School in Southborough;
- Teamworks in Northborough; or
- ForeKicks in Marlborough.
The amount per hour ranges from $90.00 - $225.00, depending on the facility.
Boys and girls lacrosse typically go to an indoor/outdoor turf facility during the first two weeks of the season, which consists of 10-12 practice dates/scrimmage with an hour-and-a-half - two-hour time slot.
Boys rugby has also trained at a few of the indoor/outdoor turf facilities listed above in the spring due to the fields being deemed unplayable. This has been less consistent compared to boys and girls lacrosse but does have a financial impact.
What is the current annual cost to maintain the grass fields?
The annual maintenance costs are approximately $90,000, which includes fertilizing, watering, mowing, and top seeding the stadium field.
What is the cost of replacing the current grass stadium field?
The current stadium field is in decent condition from proper maintenance. However, over the years, the soil has become compacted, and drainage issues have emerged because it is surrounded by the track.
To replace a grass field with upgrades to soil, drainage, and irrigation would cost approximately $750,000, assuming some escalation expected. Please note that this requires all new irrigation. Also, the problem with new grass fields, is that once constructed, they cannot be used right away like a turf field, if sodded, the field will need to remain unused for approximately 4-6 weeks for the grass to properly establish itself. If seeded, it needs to wait for one growing season (3 months).
How long before the turfs need to be replaced again?
A turf surface is long-lasting and requires less daily maintenance. However, there are maintenance costs that will be budgeted and planned for. The life expectancy of a turf surface is based on the amount of use and will need to be replaced in a 12-15 year time period. All rental revenues will be placed in an account and will be used for short and long-term maintenance of the field. The annual maintenance cost of the turf fields is estimated to be approximately $10,000 to $15,000.
As a result of the project, what will be the safety improvements?
The current conditions of the track, lighting, grandstand, and tennis courts are the areas of the project with the greatest impact on overall safety for athletes and spectators.
Track - The track is beyond useful life. The images show the deterioration of the surface, the uneven conditions, and failed patches.
Lighting - The lighting for the stadium field was installed in 1994. In certain locations on the field, the position of the lights creates unsafe conditions for our athletes. There are also shadows and unlit areas that impact play. A redesigned lighting system will be more efficient and safe for all types of play.
Tennis Courts - The tennis courts were installed in 2004. The New England weather does not cooperate with asphalt. As a result, the tennis courts have suffered from numerous cracks. To maintain the surface, the cracks have been treated and patched to extend the life of the courts. The asphalt will be reclaimed and installed with more measures to reduce the impact of seasonal changes as a result of temperature changes.
What is being done to safeguard our student-athletes and community against environmental and safety concerns?
Synthetic turf has been used for dozens of years, and technological improvements have been significant. The scope of this project includes environmentally friendly infill (the material used to cushion the surface) called EnviroFill with the added benefits of a “shock pad.”
Our civil engineering firm, Gale Associates, Inc., has managed numerous synthetic turf installations across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. They have benefited from significant research and development in this area. The project scope includes an alternative infill to crumb rubber. The Committee will continue to research the exact type/product of alternative infill. The coated sand is typically polymer-coated silica sand. The coated sand product is known to be durable, provides quality playability, does not need to be watered, has a low splash factor (it doesn’t migrate and won’t need to be topped off), and can be reused. The cons to the coated sand product are the cost (an additional $100,000 for the infill and $125,000 for the required shock pad per field).
Does the use of synthetic turf increase the community’s exposure to per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines that, “per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of chemicals used to make fluoropolymer coatings and products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. Fluoropolymer coatings can be in a variety of products. These include clothing, furniture, adhesives, food packaging, heat-resistant, non-stick cooking surfaces, and the insulation of electrical wire. Many PFAS, including perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), are a concern because they:
- do not break down in the environment;
- can move through soils and contaminate drinking water sources; and
- build up (bioaccumulate) in fish and wildlife.
The current scope of the project includes a more environmentally friendly infill that will reduce the exposure to PFAS. This infill comes at a greater cost compared to the “crumb rubber,” but the exposure to PFAS is reduced. The project includes a product called: EnviroFill. Information about the infill can be found here: https://themotzgroup.com/envirofill/
The District is contracting with Weston and Sampson to conduct an analysis of the current PFAS conditions in our natural grass athletic fields. This analysis will be compared to the materials being proposed. The results will be made available as soon as possible.
Do synthetic turf surfaces increase the potential of injury, especially concussions?
Due to the technological improvements of synthetic turf and the additional shock pad, the risk of injury is reduced but is not eliminated. Significant research has been conducted to compare the use of grass versus synthetic surfaces. A few studies we reviewed include
- A 5-year study conducted by Dr. Bill Barnhill assessed high school athletes in Texas. He compared the difference between grass fields and properly installed synthetic turf. He concluded that -
- 66% reduction in neutral injuries
- 50% reduction in cranial/cervical injuries
- 33% reduction in third-degree injuries
- A 3-year study conducted by Dr. Michael C. Meyers, Ph.D., FACSM, assessed 704 Division 1 - NCAA football games. He concluded that:
- In regards to incidence of injury:
- 7% fewer total injuries, 3% fewer minor injuries, 19% fewer substantial injuries, and 22% fewer severe injuries.
- In regards to head, knee, or shoulder trauma:
- 12% fewer concussions, 42% lower anterior cruciate ligament trauma, 16% lower ACL tissue trauma, 10% fewer AC separations, 64% fewer rotator cuff tears, 46% lower incidence of shoulder lesions.
- In regards to incidence of injury:
The critical conclusion of both studies is the proper installation and maintenance of the turf surface. This is part of our maintenance plan, which will include annual shock pad and infill inspection and testing.
What are the conditions of the current facility?
Track - The track was installed in 1994. The track has been patched routinely to extend its useful life. At this point, the track can no longer be patched and needs to be replaced. The base has eroded, and the asphalt layer has deteriorated. The surface is unsafe for athletic events.
Lighting - The lighting to the stadium field was installed in 1994. The fixtures are dated, and conditions are unsafe for some athletic events. The conditions include dark spots and uneven lighting.
Grandstand - The current grandstand does not meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. To reach compliance with ADA, the grandstand would include ramping, space for wheelchair parking, and an elevator to the pressbox for accessibility. The grandstand will have a capacity of 1,200 seats.
Tennis Courts - The tennis courts were installed in 2004 and have suffered from numerous cracks. To maintain the surface, the cracks have been treated and patched to extend the life of the courts. The asphalt will be reclaimed and installed with more measures to reduce the impact of seasonal changes as a result of temperature changes.
If field lighting is included in the project, what can we expect?
The addition of field lighting to the stadium is not intended to add additional uses to the field but to extend the duration of time when the fields can be used, particularly in the fall season. This provides several benefits. It supports working parents of our fall sports teams to have the opportunity to have some evening games, similar to those teams with playing seasons in winter and spring sports. Additionally, gaining an extended practice window until 7:30 pm for the multiple sports that need field time in the fall creates opportunity and flexibility in practice schedules. Today we need to ship entire teams offsite for practices and/or games due to competing needs. The new lights and technology also reduce light pollution to our abutting residential neighbors and will have huge energy savings over the antiquated and inadequate lighting we presently have at the field.
How will the timeline affect Algonquin Athletics?
The potential plan would begin in mid-May/June of 2023 with the intent that the field would be ready for fall sports by mid-September. With proper planning and scheduling, the impact can be mitigated. Spring teams would be slightly affected during the end of their seasons, but the end of their seasons would be managed by utilizing other local fields and playing the end of the seasons on the road.
Does the proposed project expand the current athletic complex footprint?
The proposal does not expand the current footprint of the Algonquin Athletic Complex. The project includes the addition of an amphitheater and lacrosse practice wall. The stadium field and multipurpose fields would convert from grass to turf to expand functionality. The project also incorporates the addition of an amphitheater that will be added to the JV baseball field outfield and a lacrosse practice wall; both of these components will be added to the existing facilities.
Linked to the project is the required renovation of the Amenities Building. The amenities building would require renovation to expand lavatory access to meet ADA requirements. The configuration would also be adjusted to focus the building on stadium field events.
Have we explored grass instead of turf as the playing surface?
The Athletic Complex Committee researched the comparison between a turf field and a grass field. With the amount of use our field's experience, a grass field would not be sustainable, nor can it withstand the rigors of demand now, starting as early as February and ending as late as early December.
The artificial turf fields generally extend the hours of use even in-day, have lower maintenance costs, and virtually eliminate the need to reschedule games. The current state of the grass fields and their overuse has resulted in deep over-compaction. New grass fields will not result in the perceived significant cost savings anticipated, especially in the wake of greater playing opportunities and the savings rendered from decreased maintenance costs.
Can tennis and pickleball courts be installed?
Yes, both tennis courts and pickleball courts will be supported by this renovation project. The additional lining for pickleball will not have a negative impact on the tennis program.
How many local high schools have grass fields? How many have turf fields?
Algonquin Regional High School competes in the Midland Wachusett League. This includes the high schools of Shrewsbury, Leominster, Westborough, Wachusett, Shepherd Hill, Marlborough, Nashoba, Fitchburg, and Groton-Dunstable. Algonquin is one of only three Midland Wachusett League schools that does not have a synthetic turf field.
Will this project only benefit a few sports at Algonquin?
As part of the planning with the athletic department, the scope of this project will enhance the experience for all outdoor sports. It will now include the addition of the performing arts with the amphitheater performing space. Expanding opportunities for as many students as possible was a priority in the planning process.
Will the project only benefit athletics?
As part of the planning process, we wanted to ensure that ALL students could benefit from the investment in our athletic complex. That is why this project's scope includes adding an amphitheater for the performing arts. We envision that this space will host many outdoor events including concerts, drama productions, guest speakers, and the like. This will genuinely be a community space that could be utilized for Applefest and other gatherings. Visit our Local Turf Fields page to see more.
How many students participate in the fall and spring athletic programs at Algonquin?
Fall Program -
Approximately 370 student-athletes participated on our fall sports teams. From late August to Thanksgiving, we have the potential to host up to 20 boys' and girls' soccer games and 5 football games. We host up to 6 JV football games, and football conducts daily practices on the JV football field during the week.
ARHS Fall Sports: 14 outdoor fall sports teams ranging from Varsity - JV2
Youth Football - Fall Rental: September - November, 6 Sunday morning games
Spring Program -
We have close to 470 student-athletes on our spring sports teams. From late March to late June, we host up to 8 rugby games, 5 track meets, and numerous Boys and Girls Lacrosse games on the stadium field. Boys’ and Girls’ Rugby conduct their weekly practices on the JV football field, which is also used as a backup game field if needed.
ARHS Spring Sports: 18 outdoor spring sports teams ranging from Varsity - JV2
Youth Lacrosse - Spring Rental: April - June, 4 weekly practices/games
Access for all Outdoor Sports -
The complex will be used for all outdoor ARHS sports teams - including the following teams: Boys’ and Girls’ Lacrosse, Boys’ and Girls’ Track, Boys’ and Girls’ Soccer, field hockey, football, rugby, as well as Girls’ and Boys’ Tennis. Other ARHS fall/spring teams will now have the ability to practice on turf fields as well.
For example, this complex will allow our baseball and softball teams to get practice time on the turf in the spring until their fields are ready.
Including the current field usage at Algonquin Regional High School. ARHS Field Usage
Why do we need a new field? Were the fields part of the 2004 renovation project?
The track, lighting, and stadium were installed in the mid-1990s, prior to the 2004 renovation. In 2004, the main field was re-loomed, additional grass fields were added, tennis courts were installed, and the restroom/amenity facility was added. No structural improvements were made to the track, lighting, or multipurpose field.
Is Algonquin’s Athletic Booster Club involved in this project?
The scope of the booster program is to give parents and community members the opportunity to support our athletic programs through fundraising and hands-on support for athletes to improve their experience. This includes offsetting the cost of running the programs like - uniform costs, field rental, transportation to events, equipment purchases, etc. The Athletic Complex Project is an infrastructure project that must be led by school administration and town officials. If you have an interest in learning more about ARHS Booster Club or getting involved, please email ARHSboosters@gmail.com
Who will be able to use the renovated facility?
Algonquin Regional High School is an asset to the communities of Northborough and Southborough. When school is not in session, and the fields are not being used by ARHS Athletics, the track, turf fields, tennis/pickleball courts, and amphitheater can be used for recreation. The goal is to have the ARHS Athletic Complex serve as a space for community and school use.