The newly rebuilt Neah-Kah-Nie track didn’t make its deadline, to be ready in time for the home football game with Gervais.
But, the football field was able to be used for the game against Knappa and again for the game with Gaston.
By Brad Mosher
In between the two games, the track added its striping, with the lanes now lined in white on the coral-colored surface.
But it is finished – almost – with the final touches slated to done by Friday.
The spectators will find out just how finished Friday when the sixth-ranked Pirates (6-1) host Northwest League rival Nestucca in the homecoming game.
The project is close to being completely finished, but it will be until spring before it is made official.
According to Neah-Kah-Nie School District Superintendent Paul Erlebach, the official grand “re-opening” of the newly recovered track facility will have to wait until spring.
There was more to the project then just replacing the old surface. Drainage around the facility was improved, there was work on the concession stand and restroom and new field lights using LEDs. In addition, there was work done to repair the grass, a spectator fence, shot put cinders and long jump sand.
“We got the striping done. We beat the weather,” the superintendent said Friday while a rainstorm pelted the windows in his office. “We got lucky. The track itself is all complete. What we are waiting for now is the concession stand and bathrooms.
“The electrical inspection is today (Friday), so will be ready for the homecoming game at the end of the week. The fencing will be up and the asphalt around the concession stand will be finished. So, by homecoming, we’ll be ready.”
“Once it is fully finished, the track will also be open for use by the students and the community,” the superintendent said. “The students can use the track now, but certain spots are still a construction zone.” Hopefully, by homecoming at the end of the week it will be completed, he added.
“We are excited for the public and the students to have access to the track.”
He said he was pleased with the way the project is finishing up. “The drainage works very well. The grass has grown in.
“We have had two high school football games and a middle school football game and the public has really provided public comments and shared positive comments about the facility,” he said, noting the facility will be available for generations to come in Rockaway Beach.
“We built it right.
“I think a lot of people are jealous of our track and once they compete on it, they’ll probably be more jealous. We expect there will be quite the interest to use the facility,” the superintendent added.
The football team wasn’t directly affected by the construction, he said, noting the team had to switch practice areas to the nearby softball field and then had to wait until the grass on the field could hold up to games. “The only way the football team was impacted was with the new stadium (LED) lights. Those lights illuminate the field very well.”
Part of the project was to fix a drainage problem, which had plagued the track, Erlebach said. “The drainage didn’t work. So, now we can have track meets and the kids won’t be running in the swamp.
“This is a positive infrastructure for the community.”
Finishing on budget
In spite of the delay, the project will be coming in right on budget, the superintendent said. “We did it right. That is the most important thing, I tell myself – and the community tells me. The school board did it right.”
The district did not use a bond measure for the $2.5 million renovation of the athletic facility. The funding for the project came from the Construction Excise Tax, a Small Schools Grant, property taxes and timber revenue, according to the superintendent.
The school board decided not to go to the voters for a bond for this project because the District’s current bond (middle school construction and district-wide school renovation projects) does not expire until 2025, he explained.
“The project expands the old six-lane track to an eight-lane regulation size track. This will enable high school and middle school district track and field meets to be held at NKN.
“These district meets will bring in a large number of participants and visitors. Also planned is a sixth and fifth grade track and field meet,” he said earlier.
The superintendent also passed out praise to the companies and people involved in the project.
Cameron McCarthy, a landscape architecture firm from Eugene, was in charge of planning. Matt Koehler was the architect on the project. P and C Construction and Big River Construction were the firms used in the construction.