It's been a long time coming, with the past year's extra effort including not only the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, but also support from community members, the city of Homer, Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre, KPB Capital Projects Director Kevin Lyon, the KPB assembly and legislators representing the area. It also required a $1.1 million appropriation in the state's capital budget and, finally, Gov. Sean Parnell. As of Monday, Homer High School has a brand new track.
Different from its badly deteriorated predecessor, this track comes complete with bright colors. For starters the track itself is orange. On top of that are markings of red, white, blue, yellow and green.
"A lot of people don't know much about track because we haven't had a track meet here in awhile," said Bill Steyer, Homer High School's coach for cross-country, track and field.
Each color has significant meaning. There are starts and stops for races of different lengths. There are zones within which batons much be passed during relays. There are exact locations for hurdles. There are even reverse hurdle markings to be used so runners don't have to run into the wind.
What all that means for runners is one thing. What it means for the public is something else. Namely, it means special care.
As summed up by Lyon, the new rules include:
• No rollerblading;
• No skating;
• No skateboarding;
• No bicycles;
• No motorized vehicles.
Lyon is in the process of preparing signs outlining the rules of conduct to be posted in highly visible locations.
"As soon as I get the signs down there, we'll open the track," Lyon said from his Soldotna office on Tuesday.
In addition, no animals are allowed on the track except for service animals. Runners and walkers are encouraged to use lanes three through eight, rather than just the first and second lanes on the inside of the track.
"Everybody likes (lanes) one and two, so we end up getting two big ruts," said Lyon.
With this summer's wet, cool weather, completion of the track required careful planning. Now that it's done, Lyon said he was "relieved."
"There's going to be some touch-up to do, but we won't do that until next spring," he said.
Dr. Allan Gee, HHS principal, underscored the need for care of the track. "I want everyone to know a large investment has been made to provide this track for our kids and our community," said Gee. "I'm aware the borough is working on a policy to address the use of our new track and others that will be installed (in the district) in the near future. Let's take care of it."
Next on the list for the school is replacement of the football field. "Hopefully those discussions will happen within the next few weeks," said Gee.