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Good news: The Tokay track reopens

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Posted: Thursday, September 27, 2012 10:01 am | Updated: 6:49 am, Sat Sep 29, 2012.

The all-weather track at Tokay High School has reopened most weeknights and may soon open for limited hours on weekends, too.

That's the heartening news from a meeting Wednesday at Lodi Unified School District's educational support center at which options for reopening the track were discussed.

The track has a 30-year history of enjoyment by the community, but was closed to the public by school officials in June. It is currently the only all-weather running surface in Lodi.

My wife, Judy, and I have been among community members who used the track. We asked trustees and administrators if a compromise might be hammered out to reopen it.

That's now happening, with the good graces and ingenuity of Lodi Unified officials and the encouragement of some local citizens. 

On Wednesday, Eric Sandstrom, principal at Tokay, announced the track has been open for community use in the early evenings for a couple of weeks now. The public is being allowed access after school-related activities such as football practice are finished. Eric pointed out the maintenance and operations staff members have the sometimes-touchy job of shooing people off the track at dusk. A fervent hope: Everyone will cooperate with these employees who are taking on a task on behalf of the wider community.

Weekend access is yet to be finalized, but will likely involve the purchase of a supplemental liability insurance policy by local track users and an access agreement worked out with volunteers. Art Hand, Lodi Unified assistant supe for facilities, deserves credit for thinking creatively here.  (Anybody interested in helping the cause? Or sharing ideas on weekend access? Please contact me at 369-7035 or  richardh@lodinews.com.)

Some technical matters must be addressed and then approved by the trustees, who've been wonderfully supportive and open-minded all along.

Personally, I'm thrilled with this progress —  and eager to get back on the track.

 On a somewhat related note, the Womble Rumble is ready to roll Nov. 17 at Lodi Lake. The rumble, named after the revered Lodi High track coach Don Womble, raises money for a renovation of the track and field compound at Lodi High. That renovation will include replacement of the current dirt track with an all-weather surface. Supporters are hopeful some of the recent work going into providing community access to the Tokay Track will help allow continued public usage at Lodi High's track, too. (My personal thanks to Dave Michaels, who is helping raise the money for the Lodi track and who has also pitched in to help the process of reopening the Tokay track.)

The rumble, by the way, includes races for all ages. More information? Call 327-4526 or e-mail rods818@comcast.net.

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