Tonawanda News

April 24, 2014

Tonawanda District may open track for public use

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The City of Tonawanda school board is considering allowing residents to use the new track at Clint Small Stadium, but many of the members are concerned about liability and damage issues. 

During the discussion at Tuesday night’s board meeting, Board of Education President Sharon Stuart raised concerns about residents injuring themselves at the stadium. 

“There’s no way to protect your kids being on the bleachers and injuring themselves, short of not allowing the public in there,” the district’s attorney Chris Trapp said. 

But legally, injured residents would have to prove that the district’s failure to maintain the stadium led to the accident, Trapp said. Other officials noted that the district does have insurance coverage for such incidents.

Stuart and other members also voiced their concerns that residents would damage the new stadium, which was completed in August as part of the district’s nearly $12 million capital project. 

Representatives from Pike Co., the district’s consultant, said that as long as residents wear normal sneakers and not track shoes with studs, the track won’t be damaged. Director of Facilities Paul Maziarz said multiple surveillance cameras monitor the stadium, and more cameras could be added.

“I do keep an eye on it,” he said. 

The track would have limited hours due to physical education classes and sports, and would likely be open in the mornings on the weekend. Expanded hours could be implemented during the summer until fall athletes begin practicing in August.

Restrooms would be open for residents, but all other facilities would be locked up and inaccessible, Maziarz said. Signs would also be put up, warning residents of the track’s rules.

Board members said they will continue to discuss the issue at future meetings. 

“I guess we should give it a try. I like the idea, but I think there are a lot of risks,” Board member Danielle Opalinski said. 

The board also discussed allocating $9,000 in the 2014-2015 budget to pay monitors at the middle and high school’s new fitness facility, which was also completed as part of the capital project. 

Residents would pay $5 for a membership card and the facility would be open from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. The facility currently has 14 members. 

“We’ll see how much traffic we generate, and we may have to expand those hours,” Superintendent James Newton said. 

The board had discussed taking the $9,000 from each school’s budget, but Interim Financial Manager Richard Hitzges said the end-of-the-year surplus would likely cover the cost. 

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.