The Oak Ridge Board of Education has approved a transfer of $885,000 from within its budget for renovations to Ben Martin Track.
The funds are coming from two sources, according to a memo included in the school board agenda from its meeting last Monday, Nov. 22. The nurses salary and benefits fund provided $525,000, and $360,000 came from the school system's contingency fund.
School Board member Ben Stephens made the motion to approve the transfer and member Angi Agle seconded. The budget transfer passed unanimously on second reading, meaning it is now in effect.
"After many years of erosion, flooding and infrastructure damage, the Ben Martin Track facility will get a much-needed renovation," Alan Ethridge, a former Oak Ridge High School cross country coach stated in a column in The Oak Ridger describing the future changes.
Ground work such as demolishing and removing the current track, repairing or replacing utilities and excavating the site of the new track will be the first tasks, Bruce Lay, executive director of school leadership, has said in the past. He said he is hoping the renovations will be complete by mid-April.
Lay said the school system plans to raise funds from the public for other improvements, including new hurdles, pole vault and high jump.
As Ethridge explained in his column, a new rubberized surface to replace the worn and disintegrating current surface will be installed. All field events except pole vault will move to the infield: shot put and discus rings will both be on the north end of the practice field, while long jump and triple jump will use a single 220-foot runway on the home straight, with pits on both the north and south ends. The pole vault will remain outside the south end of the track, but the new pit will swap sides and be on the west end near the field house.
Other Phase One improvements to the facility Ethridge described include replacing the old lights and moving them to the outside of the track, adding an additional light at the south end of the track in turn two, as well as re-sodding the worn crown of the football practice field.
Allen Thacker, supervisor of maintenance and operations for Oak Ridge Schools, explained in an earlier memo that only one bid was received for the project. It is a bid of $1,271,340 from Baseline Sports Construction of Knoxville. The $885,000 from the school system provide a part of the money for this project.
Ethridge went on in his column to describe several other renovations to the facility which would be part of a Phase 2, which is not a part of the contract described above.
"Because a first-class facility will also require significant upgrades to the rest of the complex, a second phase will include a new locker room, restroom and concessions building where the current concession/restroom building stands. The main entrance to the facility will move south, and a new gate modeled on the gate at the Pro2Serve Soccer Complex will sit next to the current track stands. New bleachers will be installed on the hill next to the home straight and in the north end of the facility so that fans can sit close to the action and see every event in a track and field meet. At the north end of the track, plans call for a new scoreboard with a clear view for fans and athletes alike," he said. "The facility specifications make ORHS a premier venue both for high school invitationals and the Section 1 Championship, as well as for college and club meets."
The track is named after Oak Ridge High School coach Ben Martin, a Hall of Fame member.
Ben Pounds is a staff reporter for The Oak Ridger. Call him at (865) 441-2317, follow him on Twitter @Bpoundsjournal and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Oakridger: Board transfers $885K for track improvements