Soldotna to contribute $150,000 for SoHi track and field

The City of Soldotna will direct $150,000 toward the Soldotna High School Track and Field project.

City Manager Mark Dixson received a formal letter from Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre requesting assistance in closing a funding gap for the project’s final costs. The request became necessary when final bids from the construction companies were received.

The funding shortfall came after the borough did not receive an expected $200,000 grant from the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Navarre wrote in the letter. However, the bids for the project contract came in higher than the engineer’s initial cost estimation, he said.

Chief of Staff Paul Ostrander brought up the City of Kenai’s contributed $125,000 to the track and field project at Kenai Central High School last year, when the borough had requested assistance.

Thousands of students and community members have already used it this spring, Ostrander said.

The Soldotna City Council’s approval for the funding feels amazing SoHi varsity football player Trevor Walden said. He said he is certain the football team and the greater community will benefit from the new track.

Varsity player Drew Gibbs said he and his teammates will be able to play and practice without fear of tearing up their knees in potholes, and people will be able to run on the track without risk of getting shin splints. Council member Linda Murphy said she had concerns over the regulations after hearing they had not been allowed on the track at this year’s Relay for Life at KCHS. Ostrander said the concern was accurate. Strollers and wheel chairs will not be allowed on the track. The school district created the policy after receiving recommendations from Beynon Sports Surfaces, the company constructing the project. Beynon advised that stationary-wheeled units, when turned a certain way cause damage to the surface of the track.

Ostrander said the benefits are worth it. The new material will have a 15 to 20 year lifespan, which is three to four times longer than that of the two previous tracks.

Murphy said she would reluctantly support the project. She said the track would go in no matter what the city decided.

If the council had turned it down, Navarre told her building a fence around the facility would be one of the related projects that would potentially would have been put off until next year, Murphy said. It seemed too risky to build a facility and not protect it from vandalism, she said.

Council member Paul Whitney said he would not support the project. He said the borough started the project and it was their responsibility to complete it.

Council member Pete Sprague said he had personally seen how necessary the renovations were. He said it struck him when he had seen where a ski pole had punctured the surface. “It’s past its lifespan.”

 

Kelly Sullivan can be reached at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com

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