At its Jan. 16 meeting, the Exeter Union High School Board made its temporary public use hours at the high school track permanent and set hours for all other EUHS facilities going forward.
The Board voted to allow public use of the track from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The track will be closed during school hours from 7:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., during all home football games, graduation and other special occasions as well as on holidays. The only change from the temporary hours approved in October is to begin afterschool public hours at 3:30 p.m. instead of 3:15 p.m.
“These are still reduced hours, but the original intent of this facility that it was built for the community,” said Dennis Dismuke, an avid runner and the first person to bring up the issue to the board last summer. “First it was about vandalism and now it is about costs, which is it?”
In light of vandalism throughout last year, which included burning trash cans and damage to the track, according to Principal Frank Silveira, the board approved new track usage rules to accompany the new public hours. Track usage rules are as follows:
Bleachers and grass are off limits at all times
Runners and joggers use lanes 1-4
Walkers, including those with strollers, use lanes 5-9
Animals are not allowed
No gum allowed on the track
Maximum spike length is 3/16”
No non-approved wheeled vehicles and equipment such as automobiles, golf carts, bicycles, rollerblades etc.
The board voted unanimously to approve the Exeter Union High School open facility use proposal also set public hours for Exeter Stadium, the tennis courts and outdoor basketball courts. All facilities, with the exception of the track which has the aforementioned public use hours, will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday between March 1 and Nov. 30, except during school hours from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The facilities will also be closed for public use during school or scheduled events. From Dec. 1 through Feb. 28, the same hours apply; however, there will be no public use on Saturdays during this part of the year.
The facilities will be opened and closed by district staff when on duty. Opening and closing will be done by contracted security services on non staff days at a cost of $3,400 to $4,000 per year. The contracted security will also keep track of any damage or abuse to the facilities.
All times for public use will be clearly posted and signage will include emergency contact information. All major events are contracted through the high school office.
The new hours and rules were in response to citizen complaints that track hours had been reduced over the last year. The all-weather track was built with the intention of being open to the community. On Jan. 30, 2004, the Exeter Community Health Fund (ECHF), formerly the board of directors of Exeter’s Memorial Hospital, presented a check for $312,000 to the Exeter Union High School District board. At the time, ECHF board member Leon Ooley made the following statement about the donation, which, at the time, was the largest donation in the district’s history: “We felt it was something that was needed. It is something that can be used by the whole community.”
Ooley attended the Oct. 17 meeting and reminded the school board members how the track was built, who paid for it and its intended purpose. He said he was surprised to hear the track had been closed off to the community for large portions of time but was glad they are working to resolve it now.
“I think they heard us and are working to get something done,” Ooley said. “It just takes some communication with the right people to get things done.”