BRUNSWICK — The Town Council Tuesday night unanimously authorized spending up to $1 million to renovate the crumbling Brunswick High School track.

The project would rely on borrowing, contributions and appropriation of $250,000 from the town’s undesignated fund balance.

Councilors also scheduled a workshop for Monday, Feb. 25, to discuss fire station needs, and a March 4 public hearing about extending the homeless shelter moratorium. Councilors said extending the moratorium from March 24 to July 1 would give them more time to develop a zoning ordinance and performance standards.

With nearly every seat taken in council chambers during the Feb. 19 public hearing and meeting, more than 20 speakers supported the proposal to fix the track and only one spoke against it.

“We are talking about a million dollars and you can say it any way you want to say it, a million dollars is a million dollars,” Richard Fisco said. “It’s sort of like impulse shopping, just because you want it doesn’t mean you buy it.”

But Fisco was outnumbered in the discussion on the proposal.

As a runner and father of a runner at Brunswick High School, Steven Johnson said he fully supports track reconstruction.

“This is vital to Brunswick’s future because it helps to submit Brunswick as a town where growing families want to move,” Johnson said. “The entire town prospers when we attract more people to Brunswick.”

Thomas McCormick, an eighth-grader at Brunswick Junior High School, said everyone benefits from a usable track in the community.

“I feel that building a new track is important because track is a very accepting sport,” McCormick said. “Even though the track will be at the high school, it doesn’t mean only this will only affect high school students. Track is a sport where kids can set goals and feel a great sense of accomplishment and I feel like tons of people in this town will benefit from it.”

Earlier in this month, Councilor Jane Millet voted against adopting an ordinance to fund the repairs, but she had a change of heart Tuesday.

“I came here expecting I was going to be the lone hold-out on this vote,” Millett said. “But I am going to vote yes on this tonight because I view (the track) as a valuable asset to the community. But I want you all to come out and support other items that need support – like the fire station we have had so much pushback on. We need as much support for those unglamorous but essential public safety services.”

After the meeting, Brunswick High School and Junior High School track and field coach Dan Dearing said “being able to have home meets in front of the Brunswick community will be a game-changer.”

Neither the high school nor junior high school has hosted a track meet since 2015, according to Dearing.

“I just am so thankful to everyone who showed up tonight and so thankful to the Town Council for recognizing we need this in our community for our student-athletes,” Dearing said.

The bond ordinance will be repaid from the School Department budget. Capital improvement funds used for the track would start being paid off in two years, after an air quality project at the junior high school is paid off.

RunBrunswick, a nonprofit organization formed in 2017, has already raised more than $115,000 for the reconstruction of the track. According to Barrie Logan, RunBrunswick’s president, an additional $2,500 was anonymously donated just before the meeting on Feb. 19.

The reconstruction project includes replacing the base of the track, and repaving and resurfacing the surface. Logan said the goal is to raise enough funds to have the project completed by this summer.

Brunswick Town Hall chambers were full Tuesday night, Feb. 19, with people in support of funding for a new track at Brunswick High School. Town councilors voted unanimously for the reconstruction.Track coach Dan Dearing said he was “thrilled at the thought of having home meets in Brunswick again,” after the Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday to fund reconstruction of the high school’s dilapidated track.

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