field opening

US&J FILE PHOTO

Lockport school board President John Linderman, district Superintendent Michelle Bradley, Athletic Director Todd Sukdolak and former athletic director Patrick M. Burke at the ceremonial opening of the new football field at Max D. Lederer Stadium in October 2018.

A discussion on public use of the track at Emmet Belknap Intermediate School will take place during the Lockport school board's Wednesday work session. District officials have been silent on the reason why the track is no longer open to district residents.

The track was rebuilt as part of the district's $28 million, voter-approved 2016 capital project, which also included: development of two baseball diamonds, rest and parking areas off Beattie Avenue; new tennis courts at the high school; installation of artificial turf at Max D. Lederer Field behind Belknap school and at the practice field at the high school; and updating of STEM classrooms in multiple buildings.

Trustee Kyle Lambalzer wrote about the issue, on his trustee FaceBook page, and criticized district officials for the decision. 

"There will finally be an open discussion about using the Emmet Belknap track. I've had more people ask me about why this facility is completely off limits, than anything else," Lambalzer wrote.

When reached via telephone, Lambazler stressed his own views on the topic. He said that "for many years" the Belknap track was "wide open" and the public was used to that arrangement.

"It seems disingenuous to lobby the taxpayers to pay for a huge refurbishment, and not tell them that their access was going away in the bargain," Lambazer said. 

Board President John Linderman said the reason for closing the track to the public was that, after installation of artificial turf on the football field inside the oval track, district officials worried about possible vandalism and damage to the field. 

"There was concern about unlimited public use and protecting the investment that we've put into the football field," he said. 

Linderman said the board will discuss the issue Wednesday and try to come up with some guidelines for public use of the track. 

He has fielded a couple of emails and questions in person about the new limits on track use, he added. 

"I fully understand ... there is concern about using the facilities and approving this proposition to update the facilities," Linderman said. "I think the board is hearing that and we want to come up with a solution where the community is able to use the track and protect the facilities."

The board's meeting is a work session, meaning there is no public comment period set aside for audience members.