Manchester board supportive of BBA track proposal

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Darren Marcy

Manchester Journal

MANCHESTER — The Manchester Select Board gave conceptual approval to Burr and Burton Academy to possibly built a track and field facility at Dana L. Thompson Memorial Park.

The board heard a presentation by BBA Headmaster Mark Tashjian, who has been working with Town Manager John O'Keefe on the proposed facility that would be built in the location where Knapp Field is and maintain that name.

Tashjian told the board BBA had 83 students on the track team this past spring and no track.

"It's the only sports team that doesn't have a facility," Tashjian said. "We are struggling to find a space. I desperately want to see this happen. I want us to have a robust track program."

Tashjian said he had searched for a place to locate a track on the BBA campus and it just isn't there.

But that's not the only reason Tashjian likes the idea of locating the track facility at the Rec Park. He said it would be one more example of the close connection

between Manchester and BBA.

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"We're so tightly connected to our community," Tashjian said. "Our partnership with our community is important. I want the community to love this track."

While nothing is set in stone, Tashjian said, the commitment BBA is making is to fund the cost of the track and perform it's major upkeep over the years while the town would continue to mow the grass and similar day-to-day maintenance it already performs on Knapp Field.

"My proposition is we'll pay for it," Tashjian said. "We'll make it happen."

Tashjian said he didn't want to build a million-dollar track that got used two hours a day one season a year.

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He wants to build a community asset.

"It becomes another reason why this town is such an attractive place to live," Tashjian said. "The Rec Park is such a hub of activity. There's that energy there."

Under the proposed agreement, BBA would fund the construction of the track and pay for a storage building, as well as major maintenance like resurfacing every seven or eight years as required.

The board was receptive to the idea but couldn't make any final decisions.

"I think approval at this point would be a little premature," said Select Board Chairman Ivan Beattie. "We don't own the property right now. But we can give you a sense of confidence."

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Tashjian said he just wanted to know he had a reason to go forward. He was expecting to learn key details later in the week.

"I'd love to have my kids running on it next spring," Tashjian said. "I'm interested in moving quickly. I"m ready to do it."

Beattie said his loyalties to BBA runs deep but was only one vote on the board.

"I think this is a great extension of the relationship we have had with Burr and Burton over the years," Beattie said. "The relationship we have with Burr and Burton now and it makes sense for Manchester, it makes sense for Burr and Burton and it makes sense for the surrounding community."

That was enough for Tashjian.

"Mr. Chairman I take your word as a statement of support," Tashjian said.

Still, the board approved a mostly symbolic vote of support that, if everything worked out, it was something they wanted to make happen.

Board vice-chairman Wayne Bell offered the motion for "Conceptual approval of this proposal contingent on the sale of the property," Bell motioned and the board approved. "Hopefully everything will fall into place, but it's very exciting."

Contact Darren Marcy at or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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