The student-athletes at Hobbton High School would like to have a track field to call their own and Sampson County received a clearer picture of how to build one for the successful program.
Al Britt, athletic coordinator for Sampson County Schools, updated the Board of Education on a proposal to build the facility for the Hobbton district with an estimated cost of about $200,000. The figures which included needs such as engineering and asphalt paving, were pulled from the Lakewood High School track information from five years ago.
“These costs are just estimates, so the price could go up,” Britt said.
In the fall, board members received a presentation from track coach Jeff Klaves and other supporters who want to see a track at Hobbton. During the meeting, many of the track team’s accomplishments were presented.
“This project could be a little lower if we didn’t include some things,” Britt said about the option not to include pole vault, long jump and high jump areas. “But you can’t have a track meet without those things, so I don’t think we should try to exclude any of them.”
Britt informed the board that the estimate does not include lights, bleacher, concession stands or fencing.
At first, the request was to place the track around the football field at the high school, but Britt said it would cost the district more than the cost he presented. Britt said the field would have to be demolished, leveled and turned into a different direction.
“There’s not enough room back there to build a track around it,” Britt said. “A field house is in the way and the north end of that football field drops off, probably about 30 or 40 feet down into a ravine. Quite a bit of excavation would have to be done to make that happen.”
The second place Britt was asked to research was near a playground at Hobbton Elementary School. It may fit right there, but along with dealing with an uneven surface area, Britt believes traffic for schools and track events will become a problem in the afternoon.
“If you ever been at Hobbton Elementary in the afternoon, that’s not where you want to have another activity going on.”
After going over the possible locations, Britt said the best place financially for a 7 or 8 acre track and field is near Hobbton Middle School, with access via Water Oak Lane. They also looked at areas near the ballfields, but like the elementary school, the land is a little uneven.
“I would like to have it directly behind the middle school baseball field because it’s in our line sight and we can see all the fields,” he said.
The project may benefit more than one sport. In addition to being a qualified area to host track meets, the center area of the running track may be used as a regulation soccer field. If implemented, some of the other required steps include a civil engineer, approval from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and inspections.
“It’s a much needed facility,” Britt said. “The people in the Hobbton district would love to have a track.”
Britt said the area would have to be fenced to keep people and other vehicles off the track.
“If it’s wide open, it could be a liability for us,” Britt said.
Following the presentation, Board Chairman Dewain Sinclair discussed project which could cost a little less than what was previously presented. At the time, the projected cost was about $400,000.
“The track program at Hobbton is becoming very popular,” Sinclair said. “They have an energetic coach and those kids put a lot of effort into it.”
Hobbton is the only high school in the area without a track and the students have to practice in other locations throughout the county. There’s a consensus for board members to eliminate the burden and to build a track. But like other matters, cost may be a factor. Sinclair said the board would have to solicit Sampson County Commissioners or the public for help through fundraisers.
“The county commissioners, or at least one of them, said Hobbton needed a track,” said Telfair Simpson, board member. Hopefully, we’ll have their support, especially their financial support.”
Sinclair added that the board will consider the costs which ranged from more than $183,000 to $400,000.
“There’s maybe some areas between these two figures that we can reach, look at this again and come up with a plan to present to the county commissioners,” Sinclair said.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.