Efforts to improve Wilton High’s track may have to wait until next year, but a local group in town presses on in hopes of making a change.
Parks and Recreation Director Steve Pierce said recreation officials were intially hoping to include improvements for the track as a budget proposal this year. However, after discussing the plan with First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice it was decided it was best to hold off this initiative for another year, he said. This was due to the revaluation and grand list being potentially down as well as uncertainties in state funding and talks of regionalization.
“It was felt this should be pushed off another year until we have a better handle of what the finances would be,” Pierce said. “They didn’t want to bring it to the town at this point.”
A local group called Back the Track has continued to raise money to fix the track despite this. Back the Track member Kevin Foley said there are dead spots and cracks in the track surface.
Every time it rains the rain gets into the track and doesn’t drain, he said. When this water freezes, it expands in these cracks and then when it thaws, it contracts.
“What’s happening is because of weather conditions there’s a push and pull going on with the track,” Foley said. “At some point in time, maybe sooner versus later, there could be some real safety issues with the track.”
In spots, the track surface is no longer adhering to the blacktop below it, he added. This process, called delamination, could lead to uneven surfaces for runners on the track. Foley said the organization has raised nearly $60,000 in funds and hopes to raise around $200,000 for the track.
“If we get to 200 [thousand], that’s great, but if we get to 100 [thousand], we’re going to consider this to be very successful,” he said.
Since Back the Track has started doing programs with the community and it’s been averaging nearly $10,000 a month in donations, Foley said. On Feb. 27, the group will host a fund-raising event at Craft 14 in Wilton. Supporters will be able to get coupons that will allow 10% of their check — prior to tip and tax — to be donated to Back the Track.
“We were very successful with Marly’s. We believe we will be very successful with Craft 14,” Foley said.
The track’s importance is known to the community, he added. Back the Track did a one-day survey to quantify the track’s use. In 12 hours they counted more than 300 people using the track. Foley said from a demographic perspective, track users range from high school and professional athletes to kids and parents.
“It is the most widely used, multigenerational free facility in town,” Foley said. “Bar none.”