Jan. 20—GLASTONBURY — Whatever town officials decide in their budget deliberations, athletes at the local high school will continue to have access to weight training, which is increasingly popular among participants in many sports, Board of Education Chairman Douglas Foyle said at the Town Council’s capital improvements workshop Thursday.
The issue is, “How do you want to pay for it?” Foyle continued.
The school board is proposing construction of a freestanding building on the high school campus to house the weight room at an estimated cost of $1.2 million. It is the board’s top priority among “programmatic needs,” ranking ahead of its proposal to install artificial turf on two high school fields at an estimated cost of $3 million over the next two fiscal years.
If the Town Council decides not to build the weight-training structure, the schools can continue to rent space, Foyle said.
The weight room is currently at 60 Village Place, in space rented for $48,000 per year.
Foyle, a Democrat, said that rent will be available for two more years. After that, he said, officials can figure out a way to rent other space. He estimated that the rent could run from $50,000 to $100,000 per year.
Assuming the higher figure, the new building would pay for itself in 12 years, he said, leaving its remaining life as an economic benefit.
“We feel very confident in the $1.2 million figure,” Foyle said.
He said the high school’s football team was the first to use weight training but added that there has been increased demand for it from participants in all sports, year-around. The weight-room schedule online includes time slots for football, lacrosse, baseball, boys soccer, field hockey, softball, girls tennis, track, and girls and boys crew.
Because the proposed building would be on the Glastonbury High School campus, it would eliminate the need for athletes to drive to an off-campus weight room.
It would be in what is now a high school practice field, adjacent to the tennis courts and across the parking lot from the new field house, which contains team locker rooms.
A school system budget document proposes building the new structure in a style and with materials consistent with the field house “to create a campus feel and maintain standards for the Town and the School District of Glastonbury.”
Kurt Cavanaugh, Town Council Republican minority leader, asked why the weight room is no longer at the former Eastbury School. Assistant School Superintendent Matthew Dunbar explained that the space there was needed for expansion of the LINKS special education program, which is designed to bring more local students back to town and avoid paying expensive private-school tuition.
Cavanaugh also asked why the weight room wasn’t included in the field house. School board members replied that it originally was, but was eliminated over council members’ objections to the cost.
Republican Board of Finance member James Zeller suggested that the weight room could be opened for public use, as the high school pool is.
Foyle expressed skepticism about that idea, saying the high-school campus wouldn’t be open to the public during the school day and sports teams would be doing weight training in the evening. But school board member Ray McFall, a former Republican who has left the party, said Zeller had a good point about it being a public facility.
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