CIP request includes $2.4M to refurbish CHS track, field house

The Charlottesville City Schools’ proposed Capital Improvement Program submission for fiscal year 2017-18 includes more than $2.4 million for a new track and a new field house at Charlottesville High School.

In a presentation to the city School Board on Thursday evening, Assistant Superintendent Ed Gillaspie presented a CIP request of $1,662,000 for a new, eight-lane track with bleachers and lighting and $750,000 for a new, updated field house.

The $ million would allow the division to rebuild the track in its current location behind the school, Gillaspie said. The division originally looked at three options for the location of the new track, including around the school’s turf football field and around a practice field adjacent to the football stadium.

“Around the turf field was not as desirable, because you have to tear up so much of the field to put that track in there. The practice field was complicated because it is on the county line … and there is a critical slope at the back there,” Gillaspie said. “That led us to the existing location … You can get your eight lanes, you can get your stadium seating, you can get your lighting, so that is where that would go at this point.”

School Board members said they want to make sure that renovating the track will not preclude its use by the public.

“I certainly don’t want to see another fence like is around the stadium,” said board member Jennifer McKeever. “I just want the division to know that people really see it as theirs, especially when it is not being used by the track team.”

Schools staff said the renovated facility likely would have some form of fence around it, but that a fence would not necessarily preclude public access.

Board Chairwoman Amy Laufer agreed with keeping the track open to public use, but said that future CIPs should include money for increased upkeep from heavier use.

“If we do allow the public to use the facility, and I think we should, that we just put that into the maintenance in the CIP, because we will have to be looking at the surface more frequently,” she said.

School division staff earlier this year told the School Board that the CHS outdoor track team has not hosted a home event in six years, thanks to an outdated six-lane track with inadequate lighting, parking, bleachers and bathrooms.

The City Council in April allocated $200,000 to the track and field house, which project manager Mike Mollica said would allow design and approval of the two projects to proceed.