After securing extra funds from its booster club, East Chapel Hill High School is ready to begin long overdue renovations to its track and field facilities at Wildcat Stadium.
“I am really excited for the kids,” East Chapel Hill track and field coach Stephen Marquis said Friday. “They deserve a nice track.”
Workers were expected this week to begin the physical process of correcting the length of the divot-scarred track at East Chapel Hill and prepare it for a new surface. East is working with Chapel Hill-based Corley Redfoot Architects Inc. to affect the improvements to the track.
“As soon as we got past Memorial Day, we were ready to begin renovation,” said Ray Hartsfield, East Chapel Hill director of athletics. “Whatever day we start, they know it’s supposed to be finished by July 31.”
The track at Wildcat Stadium has been in decline for years, with crumbled edges on the inside and outside lanes, severe cracks and small holes at several spots, and grass popping up through the asphalt at intervals. Even the fact that the track consists of hard asphalt was problematic for some runners.
Adding to East’s headaches was the recent discovery that the track was 10 meters longer than the standard length of 400 meters.
In spring 2013, East Chapel Hill then-sophomore Temuulen Sodgerel filed an online petition on change.org, citing safety and health concerns of runners about the local high schools’ asphalt tracks and asking for needed improvements. The petition immediately drew hundreds of signatures.
Addressed to Thomas Forcella, Superintendent of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools system, the petition asked that East and Chapel Hill both get rubberized surfaces, like the ones extant at Orange and Cedar Ridge high schools.
Last June, Orange County commissioners approved $150,000 for resurfacing the track at East Chapel Hill in 2013-14. Another $200,000 is planned for the track and field at Chapel Hill High School’s Culton-Peerman Stadium for fiscal year 2015-16.
While the funding was enough to lay new asphalt at the East track, it wasn’t enough to get a rubberized surface. The East Chapel Hill Boosters Club took up the challenge to come up with another $68,850 to close the shortfall, said club president Jay Kennihan.
“We raised it from donations as small as five dollars from students to some more significant donations from friends of East,” Kennihan said, noting many of the contributors wanted the track dedicated to Dave Thaden, East Chapel Hill’s first principal. “A number of local businesses stepped up as well as the booster club.”
Funds were partly raised from concession sales at games, sales of sponsors’ banners at game venues, East’s annual golf tournament, merchandise sales and memberships in the booster club, Kennihan said, thanking everyone who contributed.
“I’ll tell you, the booster club did a bang-up job on this,” Hartsfield said. “When Jay texted me last weekend and said ‘We have it,’ that was a great moment.”
“I also want to thank Jay Kennihan for all his hard work,” Marquis said.