New track is on the way

Seth Hodges remembers running on the current North Whidbey Middle School track over 30 years ago, but he’s not going to miss it when it’s finally gone.

“I was sad to see the old high school gym torn down, I won’t be sad to see this go,” he said, looking at the worn black surface of the NWMS track on Wednesday.

Hodges won’t have to wait long.

Beginning in the very near future, the Oak Harbor School District will start the destruction of the NWMS track and the construction of a new 400-meter running/walking surface.

“This will be a full-blown, good quality, brand new track with under drainage,” OHSD construction manager Gary Goltz said.

Along with the track, there will also be a natural grass multipurpose field placed in the middle with areas for field events, along with a new baseball/softball field located in the northeast corner of the property.

The estimated $700,000 project is expected to reach completion by the end of next summer.

“We did look at resurfacing the track, but it was in such bad condition the people who examined it said it would be a waste of money,” Goltz said.

The money set aside for the project comes from a capital project fund left over from a 1996 bond. A small amount will also come from the school board’s general fund.


The new track will be eight lanes and 400 meters, instead of the 400 yards it is currently at. The surface will consist of a red rubberized material similar to that of other tracks built recently at Mount Vernon and Arlington high schools.

“They found these last longer than the tracks we used to use do,” Goltz said.

To go along with the new surface, the inside of the track will have its existing sod removed and be replaced with a sand-based grass turf. New pits for the long jump/triple jump and pole vault will be added, along with areas outside of the track’s interior to throw the discus, shot put and javelin.


The idea would be to have both middle school track teams and P.E. classes use the track, as well as the high school track team, until a new football stadium and track complex is constructed for OHHS.

Hodges is extremely excited about this opportunity, as the OHHS track has become virtually unusable and unsafe due to wear and tear.

“I’m overjoyed,” he said. “Effectively it’s been two years now without a home track meet.”

Not only has the OHHS track team not hosted a league home meet in three years, but concerns for safety caused the program to drop the pole vault completely last year.

“I finally determined that our runway is just too close to the track and in order to get all the extra padding out there to make it safe, we’d have to get padding out on the track,” Hodges said.

Due to the hard surface on three-quarters of the high school track, Hodges also voiced concern for safety of the runners.

“Towards the end of the season in most years, I’ll take the kids on a Saturday down to Coupeville to run on their track,” he said. “If I spend too much time on our track I’ll injure those kids.”

Not only will the track be put to use by the youth of Oak Harbor, but it will be open just as the current NWMS track is for public use. Goltz said the track will be fenced in to keep motor vehicles out, but the public will be able to use the track anytime it’s not in use by the schools.

“We are not going to restrict foot traffic,” he said.


In addition to the track a new baseball/softball field will be constructed in the northeast corner of the NWMS property, right were the old school was located.

“What we’re doing here is giving the community back a field,” Goltz said, referring to a field that was torn down in order to construct the new NWMS building.

Although the dimensions haven’t been officially decided upon, the field will have both 60 and 90 foot base paths, with close to 275 feet down the right field and left field lines and over 300 feet in centerfield. New dugouts will also be added for the use of little league and other community teams.

Goltz expects the field to be in use by the summer of 2005.

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