Here is an architect’s rendering of how the athletic complex at Kennebunk High School will look following a proposed renovation. The RSU 21 School Board has authorized a capital campaign committee to raise private funds and has tasked the board’s finance committee to analyze funding options. The district currently has $1.45 million of the $3.97 million it needs to get the work done. CHA Architects Image/Courtesy RSU 21

KENNEBUNK – The track at Kennebunk High School has holes in it. Sometimes, the sidelines on the stadium field are flooded because of poor drainage, said RSU 21 Athletic Director Joe Schwartzman. Some of the bleachers, which are secondhand, are 50 years old and were found to be structurally unsound in 2013, according to information included in a RSU 21 School Board presentation. The stadium lights and poles at Memorial Field, where football and soccer are played, were donated to the school in 1988. The field hockey facility has no lights.

The RSU 21 School Board says it is time to update the athletic complex at Kennebunk High School.

Kennebunk High School is unable to host track competitions for several years, said Athletic Director Joe Schwartzman, because of several areas where the surface is damaged. Dan King photo

The project has been on the minds of many members of the community for some time — $250,000 was set aside for the track in 2015, there were meetings with an engineering firm in 2017 and $1.2 million in leftover construction funds from a high school project was allocated to the athletic complex renovation.

In 2020 after reviewing proposals, the RSU 21 board selected a design engineering firm, CHA Architects of Portland.

The renovation is estimated to cost about $3.97 million. The district has about $1.45 million for the project, leaving a $2.52 million gap.

The school board recently agreed to task the Finance Committee with analyzing possible options for funding the remaining $2.52 million, and to create a Capital Campaign Committee to raise private funds for the project.

RSU 21 School Board member Todd Shea said he has seen a lot of support for the project.

“Anytime you discuss this in public, people are chomping at the bit to get a new field,” said Shea at a recent school board meeting. “I think it’s wonderful that there’s that energy and passion.”

Creating a Capital Campaign Committee is an opportunity to defer some of the costs and to get the community involved, he said.

The sidelines and a portion of the track at Kennebunk High School were underwater a couple of years ago, due to drainage problems, said school officials. RSU 21 photo

In a recent interview, Schwartzman said the district has not been able to host track competitions for the past few years, because of several areas of damage around the track.

“When we practice, we put cones over the holes,” said Schwartzman. “The track is in dire condition and should have been replaced five years ago.”

He said the stadium field has poor drainage, noting a time three years ago when a 40-foot by 10-foot puddle appeared on the sidelines.

The bleachers range from 30 to 50 years old, and those on the visitors’ side came from a school in Woburn, Massachusetts, and were put together by volunteers about 15 years ago.

Besides being deemed structurally unsound, the bleachers also do not meet code regulations, officials said. The light poles have woodpecker damage.

The field hockey team competes on a different field because grass no higher than 1½ inches high is required. Schwartzman said the field itself is “probably the best we have,” but there are no lights on it, and with games that start at 4 p.m., junior varsity games get shortened because of the lack of daylight.

Among the planned upgrades to the athletic complex at Kennebunk High School will be new bleachers. The current bleachers range from 30 to 50 years old, according to school officials. Dan King photo

A turf field is being eyed for the Memorial Field, which would allow boys’ and girls’ soccer, football, boys’ and girls’ lacrosse and field hockey to be played on the same field. The plans also call for a practice field.

“This is an opportunity for the community to work together with the (school) board, the taxpayers with the three communities,” said LeBlanc. “This is an issue that has an impact on our students every day this goes on. I think we as a board have an opportunity to address this now. The Capital Campaign Committee is an opportunity to see what we can do with private contributions to address this issue which is directly impacting our students and their well-being.”

Comments are not available on this story.