Joint School Committee members are pressing on in their mission to upgrade Concord’s school buildings — and acknowledge it will come at a cost.
The committee voted in October to advance a warrant article requesting $2.34 million from the town for design and construction of a permanent restroom building beside Memorial Field Stadium at Concord-Carlisle High School.
If approved, the new building would house 22 bathroom stalls — including accessible and gender-neutral bathrooms — along with a concessions area and storage space.
Three porta-potty rentals have served the school’s 1,800-person stadium since the campus was completed in 2015, when existing restroom structures were removed, Regional School Committee Chair Tracey Marano explained.
She said the portables were meant to be a temporary solution, and that the current setup leaves the school “out of compliance” with building codes.
In 2018, a Campus Advisory Committee had plans drawn up for permanent stadium restrooms.
“The goal was to build a building there [when the campus was completed] and now we sit eight years later with a porta-potty rental,” Marano said at a committee meeting. “I know that [we’re] asking the town for money, but this was always part of our plan.”
Committee members unanimously agreed on the need for permanent stadium restrooms — but some worried the multi-million-dollar request might blindside residents.
“We have asked so much of the Town of Concord with the middle school … I think we have to be really careful of our financial ask going forward, because the debt is getting overwhelming,” Committee Member Cynthia Rainey said during a meeting.
Others felt the step was long overdue.
“Waiting a year is one thing; waiting three is another,” Concord Public School Committee Chair Alexa Anderson said. “As we approach 10 years [without permanent restrooms], I do feel like this is getting to the point of being inappropriate.”
She and other members cited accessibility concerns as another driving factor for the move.
“You cannot necessarily turn a wheelchair around in a handicap-accessible” portable, Marano said.
In early November, Anderson and Marano toured existing amenity buildings at Weston, Wayland, Lincoln-Sudbury and other nearby high schools to compare possibilities for the potential project.
“CCHS was the only school site without a permanent building with accessible restrooms” near its stadium, Marano concluded.
A draft of the warrant article will be reviewed by the Town Counsel and Bond Counsel in the coming days, Marano said.
If approved at town meetings in Carlisle and Concord, the question will be put to a vote in both towns, either at a special election or during a larger election, such as the state primary, she said.