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Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

Est. 2014

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Sean Baker Editor

William Forsman Photographer

Bryan Lund Reporter

Park board holds off on repaving track

Park board holds off on repaving track

The Rochester Park Board voted Tuesday to delay accepting a bid for the Soldiers Field track resurfacing — potentially paving the way for the parks department to form a partnership with a group of grassroots activists.

The vote, which was unanimous, followed months of public opposition toward the board’s initial plan to repave the track with asphalt.

Members of the running community had mobilized around the issue, arguing that the parks department should install a softer surface.

Parks department officials said Tuesday they are optimistic that they can continue working with the Save the Track group to find a solution that works for both parties. The parks department had recommended asphalt, not only because of the relatively low cost, but because the surface would be accommodating for large events, such as Rochestefest.

While the Save the Track group has not nailed down an exact cost for an alternative surface, its members do believe there are options that would be both soft enough for runners and tough enough for food truck traffic. One alternative they have proposed combines clay with engineered soils.

Whatever option they move ahead with must factor in the city’s maximum contribution to the project, which is set at $295,000. The remaining expenses would need to be covered by grants and local fundraising.

The Rochester Track Club has set up an online fundraiser, which as of this writing has brought in more than $7,500 from 90 donors.

The topic is expected to come back before the park board as early as next month. Board members stressed the urgency, noting that any resurfacing would have to be complete by Rochesterfest 2020.

Sean Baker is a Rochester journalist and the founder of Med City Beat.

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