The Tri-Town Track and Field Project Board, which aims to get a synthetic turf field and surrounding track built at Freeport High School, is planning an event to build public awareness of its intentions.

“When You Build It, They Will Run” is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 7, from 6-8 p.m., at the William Allen Farm on 284 Allen Road in Pownal. The group’s steering committee is busy arranging for food and beverage donations, and there will even be entertainment, as Lisa Redfern will sing jazz standards.

Maddy Vertenten, public relations committee chairwoman of the Tri Town Track and Field Project, has sent out a call for help in planning the Oct. 7 meeting. Those interested should contact Vertenten at [email protected]

It is not a fundraising event.

“It’s a meeting just to get the word out and increase the level of interest,” said Fred Palmer, co-chairman of the steering committee.

The steering committee is developing logos, T-shirts and a list of frequently asked questions to distribute to the public.

The group’s goal is to raise $3.5 million, which could possibly include up to $500,000 of the $600,000 earmarked for renovation of the grass field. The work at the school’s grass field is part of a $14.6 million renovation now under way at Freeport High.

Palmer said that the committee needs to secure the major funding by the end of 2015 in order to meet necessary deadlines set by the Freeport High School Building Advisory Committee.

“In order for this project to succeed we need to begin by securing the lead gifts,” Palmer said. “That is, we need to approach these potential lead donors in September and October to get some feel for what they are willing to pledge.”

RSU 5 legal counsel has advised the Tri-Town Track and Field Project Board that state law requires that voters through referendum approve any capital projects even if built with donated funds. The track and field group is negotiating with the school board to schedule a referendum next spring that would ask voters if they want to spend the money for the new synthetic turf field and track, rather than the renovation of the existing field. The group hopes to get around $500,000, if residents of Durham, Freeport and Pownal approve the referendum.

Three times before, RSU 5 voters have rejected money for a synthetic turf field and track. Palmer said that this attempt is different from the others. If the turf field and track is built, the bulk of the work to renovate the grass field will not be necessary.

“It’s not like we’re asking the voters for any more money than they’re actually providing,” he said.

“If we can’t raise $1,500,000 from lead gifts, it will be very difficult to raise the money needed to complete this project. We need to secure this funding before considering going out to the public.”

The steering committee is hoping for up to $250,000 in support from the National Guard in an in-kind contribution of construction services. The committee has made an appointment with the Maine National Guard on Wednesday, Sept. 16, to discuss the potential project.

Kim LaMarre, who is handling the construction, cost and budget for the Tri-Town Track and Field Project Board, prepared a priority listing of updated project costs earlier this summer for the group. If all were done, and as adjusted for inflation (costs are two years out), the cost would be $4.1 million. The group reviewed cost alternatives and adopted a goal of $3.5 million, which would be $2.75 million after bond and National Guard monies is deducted.

Nelson Larkins of Freeport, chairman of the RSU 5 board of directors, has agreed to be the liaison between the RSU 5 board and the Tri-Town Track and Field Project Board.

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