No new track

Rachel Basinger | Herald-Standard

Connellsville Area School board voted against replacing the track at Falcon Stadium this week, and authorized a study to determine the feasibility of moving the district’s stadium to the high school campus.

A resolution to replace the dilapidated track at Falcon Stadium failed 3-5, as several Connellsville Area school directors questioned the wisdom of spending up to $283,270 to get a new track if the school board decides to build a new football stadium.

The decision on relocating the stadium to the high school campus will be made based on the results of a feasibility study, which the board authorized by unanimous vote at its meeting this week. The master planning service and feasibility study will be conducted by J.T. Saucer and Associates LLC at a cost of $7,950. It will take between three and five months to complete, said district Athletic Director Richard Evans.

Some board members said they like to have the results of the feasibility study before making a decision on the track, but Evans said work on the track is temperature dependent and has to be done between June and August. In order to get on the company’s schedule to complete the track replacement during those months, Evans said the school board would have to approve the project now.

Board member Kevin Lape, who voted for the track replacement, said he’s concerned that not moving forward with the replacement will mean the district’s track team will not host any meets in Connellsville – or be able to use the track to practice at all.

After the board’s work session this week, Evans characterized the track as being “at the end of its life.”

The track was installed in 1999 and about 10 years ago had a polyurethane-based spray top coat applied to add longevity to the original surface. Doing that again isn’t an option, Evans said.

While many board members are in favor of constructing an on-campus stadium because it could be used by everyone in the district, Evans pointed out that such a project would take two to three years to complete.

School board member Michael Omatick mentioned that he walked the track Wednesday in anticipation of the vote, but didn’t notice loose parts. He said he would like the opportunity to return and specifically look at the loose sections.

Omatick questioned if the board could reconsider the track replacement at a special meeting later this month.

“For this to be done this summer, this is pretty much it,” said Evans.

Lape, board president Bryan Kiesel and Paul Harshman voted for the track replacement, while the rest of the board in attendance - David Panzella, Donald Grenaldo, Francis Mongell, David Martray, and Omatick - voted no. Although not in attendance, school director Daniel Martucci supported the track replacement, said Kisiel, who voted in favor of the replacement because there isn’t an interim solution for what to do about the track even if a new stadium is built two or three years down the line.

If a new stadium is built, Mongell pointed out that an eight-lane track could be incorporated into the design, which would allow the district to host county meets and invitationals. The current track has six lanes on one side, but merges to five on the other side. He questioned whether a track replacement project could make it any wider, but Evans said that wouldn’t be possible.

Mongell voted against the track replacement, but in favor of the feasibility study.

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