Athletic Complex Renovation Project

A rainy spring in Maine means the Messalonskee track and field program is likely to be mired in the mud for days or weeks – and that’s the literal truth.

In a figurative sense, the same could be said to apply to RSU 18’s efforts to upgrade the track team’s dirt oval and Messalonskee’s overall athletic field complex in the last few decades: each attempt has failed to move forward.

But that situation could change in November when voters in the school district communities of Oakland, Belgrade, Sidney, Rome, and China weigh in on a $13.9 million bond proposal – $10 million of which is targeted to address fire code violations and overall capital improvement in the school district and that includes about $3.9 million to improve the high school’s athletic complex.

The centerpiece of that improvement would be an eight-lane synthetic track around the football field. But it also would feature upgrades to lighting and grandstand renovations.

“This is a much-needed step for our athletes,” Messalonskee Athletic Director Tommy Hill said. “They compete at a high level, and they deserve to compete on fields that benefit them.”

Mr. Hill also emphasized that an upgrade to the athletic complex, especially the creation of a synthetic track, would be beneficial to RSU 18 residents, providing a safe and comfortable place to walk or run outside. “This (athletic complex improvement) is something that would bring a sense of community and a sense of pride to the district,” he said.

Hill said in addition to the track, the initiative would result in replacing the current grass football field with an artificial turf field that could be used by the football, soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey teams.

The plan also calls for adding another set of bleachers and making the complex, in general, more handicap accessible.

The RSU 18 school board voted in August in move forward with the proposal, but voters will determine its ultimate fate in November.

written by Colin Hickey

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