Archived Story

8-lane track may be the deal breaker for voters

Published 7:44am Monday, December 2, 2013 Updated 11:52am Monday, December 2, 2013

It appears the issue of the Fergus Falls High School bleachers is again coming to the fore and may again be coupled with a push to expand track facilities.

Accepting the assumption that there will continue to be sports activities such as football at which numerous fans will be present, the safety of the bleachers is a very valid concern.

It needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. The Daily Journal editorial on Nov. 21, 2013, in my opinion, presented a rational approach to the issue and is one that I support and would vote for.

Per The Daily Journal article of Nov. 19, 2013, Superintendent Ness suggests that a second and separate set of visitor bleachers is needed due to what appears to be a disconcerting slide in fan sportsmanship.

Hopefully the situation will not devolve to a state frequently in evidence at soccer games in England and Egypt.

While opposing fan bases are usually located opposite each other, my position on the bleacher issue is more closely aligned with that of School Board Chairwoman, Cole. The positions presented in The Journal editorial and that of Chairwoman Cole, on both the issue of bleachers and the track, would readily receive my “yes” vote.

The article suggests two options are being considered for the track renovations.

A repaving of the existing six-lane track or modifying the track expanding it to eight-lanes, making Fergus Falls a potential site for regional track meets.

The argument for expansion, that it would “provide a big economic boost to the community”, is not convincing.

The argument as presented would not sway me to vote for the eight-lane track option.

Without providing supporting empirical data to support the contention that the expansion of the track, encouraging regional meets to be held locally, it does not back up the contention there would be a big economic boost.

Said assertion without supporting data, detracts from the argument to expand to eight-lanes.

What comes to mind is former President Bush’s stance on WMDs in Iraq as an argument for war, and President Obama’s promise that everyone can keep their current health plans if they want.

It takes on the aura of a questionable or even false bill of sale. I assume the real argument for expansion to eight-lanes is most tracks are eight-lanes and to garner recognition of Fergus Falls as a regional track meet venue, as well as a way of conserving time (fewer heats) for both the athletes and the fans at track meets.

My supposition is that most out-of-town visitors attending a meet probably would not be over-nighting and making significant expenditure locally except perhaps for a lunch and perhaps a filling up of gas tanks.

If my assumption is wrong, I invite the presentation of supporting data/evidence to the contrary, in support of that “big economic boost” argument.

No doubt other communities are now hosting those regional meets. Research it; if the data supports the big economic boost assertion, provide the economic data. It will strengthen your argument. Rational argument does sway; unsubstantiated claims do not.

Any proposal to be placed before the voters, for the third time, is obviously moving forward. Preliminary cost estimates will undoubtedly be massaged and change.

With reference to those estimates, reading the cost estimate presentation for the bleachers and repaving the six-lane track, without the eight-lane track expansion, the estimated is just under $2.1 million.

The proposal cost estimate with the inclusion of the track expansion, which is estimated at $675,000,is $2.6 million. Logically, from what is written, shouldn’t that figure be $2.75 million?

It appears that $175,000 has been lost somewhere in the estimate. Or, is that amount a “savings” that simply accrues by doing the track expansion?

Accurate and defensible cost estimates tend to sell proposed projects better than questionable figures do.

No one likes cost over-runs. Let’s hope the final proposal accurately presents the information for the voter’s consideration and “yes” vote.


Tony Vollbrecht

Fergus Falls

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