The 25-year-old blacktop on the Weyauwega-Fremont School District’s track is showing its wear.
Parents of children who are in the school district’s track program say the numerous cracks in the surface make the track a safety hazard.
Others, including Tom Fitzpatrick, call its condition “embarrassing.”
For several years, the district has had $300,000 set aside for a track project.
During the regular monthly meeting of the school board Monday, Nov. 29, residents learned what a repaired track would look like and what it would cost.
“We know we need a new track. The question is how much the community wants to spend on it,” School Board President Neal Loehrke said.
The total estimated cost of the conceptual design presented Monday night is $600,000.
Jeff Bahling, who is the senior landscape architect at Rettler Corporation in Stevens Point, said the district has a “pretty nice facility” but that with new paving and a new entrance, it could be “even nicer.”
The cost estimate includes such things as breaking down the existing track surface, earthwork, an allowance for electrical work, utilities, concrete paving, a long and triple jump area, a rubber surface on the track, fencing and a 7 percent contingency.
The design he presented included additional paved surfaces, a rubber track surface and the necessary fencing for such a track because the Track Committee was interested in learning the various costs of a broad project, he said.
Bahling told the board that the project could be done in phases.
About a dozen high school students who participate in the district’s track program attended the meeting – sitting in the first two rows of the seats set up for visitors.
Behind them sat parents, coaches and other district residents.
Loehrke said the school board will need input from from the community before it makes a decision.
District Administrator Scott Bleck said next step is to take the issue back to the committee level for more discussion.
The Monday, Dec. 6 meeting of the Track Committee is open to the public.
The committee will likely look at a breakdown of the projected costs.
Bahling said a typical project can be done in about 1 1/2 months.
Monday’s discussion included drafting a petition that breaks down what the actual cost to taxpayers would be. At least one high school student volunteered to take such a petition door to door.
There was also talk of fundraising and asking other groups that use the facility to share in the cost.
School board member Tony Beyer said they are in agreement that something needs to be done. Now, they have to come up with a number.
Fitzpatrick said he is willing to pay $50 or $100 more each year in taxes.
With talk of declining enrollments in many school districts, he said that building a track such as that being considered means the district would have a better chance of bringing in new families.
Fitzpatrick said the district can look at it two ways – as an expense or an investment.
He chooses to look at it as an investment.
Julie Hendricks is the district’s middle school track coach. She said they cannot get schools to come to Weyauwega, because schools do not want to risk their athletes getting hurt.
“Track is my passion,” Hendricks said. “We need this.”
The design unveiled Monday night is that of a track that could host a sectional meet.
“I know it’s a lot of money. We’ve got half of it,” she said.
High School track coach Nick Winn said he has seen a mediocre program but excellent athletes.
“What are you willing to invest in your athletes?” Winn asked. “I can guarantee excellence if we have excellent facilities.”