Track and Field season is half over and the Nikiski athletes are still unable to use the multi-million dollar facility there. Use it, heck we can't even see it. I know it was a bad year for snow, but I begged the KPB Maintenance Department to come up with a solution last year. Nope. Twelve months later and still the same problem. The SoHi and Skyview tracks are cleared of snow by the city of Soldotna.The Kenai track gets cleared by the city of Kenai. The Nikiski track evidently is supposed to be cleared by Mother Nature.
Well since M.N. wasn't so helpful last year, I went down to our track and hand-shoveled a path all the way around the track, one shovel width wide, so the sun could get to the dark surface and begin the melting process. I worked down there every day for 2 weeks. The Borough Meet was scheduled for May 5th. On the afternoon of May 4th when the team came down to utilize the track, I was able to proudly give them lane 7 and 8 in front of the bleachers. The entire track was clear, finally, and just in time. We were able to have Boroughs and a week later Regions. The Nikiski athletes repeatedly thanked me for all my hard work (about 40 hours). If you ask the athletes from the other schools, they will tell you they love the Nikiski track. It is arguably the best High School track in the Borough.
I understand some of the issues with not clearing the track. First, it is fairly new, and of course expensive. It is a rubberized track and not asphalt like many of the others. Supposedly the equipment they use (950 Cat loader with a blower) is too heavy. Funny thing though, is Skyview is a similar track.
Also the track was on warranty, and using heavy equipment may have caused a warranty issue if any problems came up. Well the track is off warranty. I am quite certain that a skid steer on tracks with a blower attachment could clear our track without damaging it.
When I cleared the track myself last year, I asked Borough Maintenance for help. They basically laughed in my face. Couldn't even get a few paid Borough employees to come out and help an old man shovel. Pretty pitiful.
When I contacted them again this year, at least I didn't get laughed at, but still no help. I was told that several of the tracks in town will eventually be rebuilt with similar materials as Nikiski, and when that happens no more heavy equipment on those tracks either. The Borough will need to figure something out. Well how about this. Figure it out already. Like last year. Why do we have to wait till the tracks in town get redone for a solution?
In fact the State just authorized the funding to rebuild the Kenai track. Perhaps as soon as next year. So is that when we scramble for the last minute solution? It's real sad that our athletes have to train in a parking lot and then go attempt to compete with athletes from other schools who have been training on the actual competitive surface. Relay races just aren't the same in a parking lot.
There are several local businesses with the proper equipment and insurance that would be quite capable of clearing the Nikiski track without problems. Perhaps they would even give the School District a discount price. Or we could wait till Kenai gets a new track, and then run around waving our hands in the air in a panic not knowing how to clear a track without the use of the large equipment from the two Cities.
I beg the KPBSD to come to this forum and announce a solution. Hopefully before next year. Cause I have news for them. It will snow again this coming winter, and track season will start again in the spring. Eleven months and counting.