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Editorial: Trustees on the money with new track at Lodi High School

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Posted: Saturday, August 24, 2013 12:00 am

The new all-weather track at Lodi High School will cost nearly a million bucks. That’s a lot of textbooks and test tubes, basketballs and iPads.

We’re probably among the fussiest taxpayers in Lodi, but we think this investment is solid, and we commend the Lodi Unified school board for stepping up.

Here’s why:

A pile of community money: Of the $922,000 expense, roughly $400,000 is coming from the Lodi Sports Foundation, die-hard volunteers who’ve held numerous fundraisers to get this track built. We can’t think of the last time that kind of money was raised by volunteers for a local school project. Kudos go to Dave Phillips, who spearheads this effort, and all of the coaches, parents, runners and community supporters who’ve made this possible.

Fairness: All-weather tracks at Tokay and Bear Creek high schools were paid for with 100 percent taxpayer money. It seems only fair that the Lodi High community, having raised $400,000, should get an all-weather oval, too. Should track supporters at McNair raise a similar amount, they deserve similar consideration.

More kids working out: You can argue that a good, old-fashioned dirt track is just fine. But times change, and so do needs, expectations and opportunities. This new track will allow more kids to run, jump and jog through the rainy fall and winter seasons. (With an epidemic of obesity noshing away at our youths, isn’t that a great thing?) The track will likely allow event sponsors to charge admission to some events.

Bigger events: With a new track, Lodi High might be able to host major regional or invitational track events. That’s exciting for the students and atheletes and, who knows, maybe a bit of an uplift to local merchants who might benefit from a regular surge of visitors to the community.

Less threat of trauma: If you’ve ever tried to jog on the current Lodi track, you know it’s typically either a sloppy mudhole or a dusty wasteland, dotted with potholes just waiting to break a leg or crack an ankle. The new surface will be smoother, safer, and easier on the joints.

A community resource: Phillips and trustees agree this track will be, to the extent practical, open to the public. That’s key in our minds, as so many people now want to work out and need a safe place to do it. This is, after all, community property and the community should have every possible right to use it.

If all goes well, construction will begin over the winter or early spring. Maybe by summer, we’ll be able to have a track grand opening involving the whole community.

By the way, the fundraising continues, so if you’d like to chip in, please send a check to the Lodi Sports Foundation, C/O Lodi Track Fund, 220 S. Fairmont Ave., Lodi 95240.

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