The newly constructed, $1 million Brunswick High School track, which is expected to be fully completed within the next few weeks. (Hannah LaClaire/The Times Record)

BRUNSWICK — After years of hosting “home meets” at other schools, Brunswick High School track athletes will be able to run on their own turf this spring after the completion of a new, $1 million track.

According to Superintendent Paul Perzanoski, the track, which the Brunswick Town Council approved in February after overwhelming community support, will be finished “in a week or so.” 

The project stayed on budget and on schedule, he said, and only needs some additional painting and fencing. A grand opening will be scheduled for the spring. 

According to nonprofit organization RunBrunswick, which has raised more than $130,000 for the project so far, the Brunswick High School Cross Country team hosted a home meet at the high school, starting and ending on the newly finished track, on Sept. 26 — the first home meet the team has hosted in 25 years. 

The old track, built in 1994 and resurfaced around 10 years ago, was in dire need of a replacement. According to Athletic Director Jeff Ramich, it had frost heaves splitting the pavement and weeds growing through the cracks. “It is tremendously torn up,” he said in an interview last winter, adding that the top layer “basically disintegrates” if rubbed. The team hosted “home” meets at Lisbon High School for two years, unable to use its own track. 

Replacing the track was an agenda item for the town council for some years, but with an estimated $860,000 price tag, officials were keen to explore other options, leaving it on the back burner. 

More than a dozen high school athletes and many community supporters came out to the public hearing in February to advocate for the community track. 

Grass grows in the lanes at Brunswick High School before it was replaced this summer. (File photo)

Brunswick track athlete Will Shaughnessy told councilors that home meets were “almost electric” with family, friends and community members cheering them on. 

“A million dollars is a million dollars,” he said, “but the positive effect on the community is priceless.” 

Councilors unanimously passed an ordinance assigning $250,000 in town surplus toward the project and allowing for  contributions from grants and groups like RunBrunswick to help fund the rest.

The balance of the project comes in the form of a capital advance that will be repaid through the school department budget, according to town meeting documents. Those payments will be timed to begin following the repayment of the 2016 advance to the school department for the $454,000 Junior High School Air Quality project, designed to bring the junior high up to national air quality standards. Essentially, the payment schedule will be extended at nearly the same amount (about $92,000 instead of $90,000) for seven to 10 years, will therefore not increase taxes. 

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