Riverview High track damage remains, team to again compete away all season
Riverview High School track teams will have all away meets for a second — and possibly third — straight season as Oakmont and school district officials continue to debate who should pay for track repairs.
Meets were first rescheduled in March 2018, when it was determined the track in the lower section of the borough’s Riverside Park does not meet competition standards. The borough owns and maintains the park.
The track is damaged by tree roots that have pushed it up and made it uneven. There are several bumps in lane one and another in lane two. The team still practices on the track, which has not been closed to the community.
District Athletic Director Mario Rometo confirmed via email late last month that Riverview families will have to travel once again to see their children compete.
Track season starts in March with state competitions scheduled in late May.
“I have not heard any feedback from the families regarding the away meets,” Rometo said. “The student athletes are resilient and are looking forward to the upcoming season to once again compete for section championships.”
The borough bought the all-weather track from New York-based Nagle Athletic Surfaces about seven years ago.
Total estimated replacement cost for a new track is $75,000 to $100,000.
Riverview School Board member Alex DiClaudio said the district received a letter from the borough in January asking for a commitment to help pay for track repairs.
“The issue we’re running into is that the borough and the district are on different budget cycles,” he said.
Municipalities adopt their budgets in December. School districts approve their final spending plan for the following school year in June.
“We don’t have anything for the track budget in this (school year’s) budget,” DiClaudio said. “We can’t make any commitments in next year’s budget until we go through the process. There’s a lot of ground to cover between now and (June). We certainly want to be active members with the borough to come up with a solution.”
The district’s portion of track repairs could be $30,000 to $50,000.
DiClaudio said it could take until the 2020-21 school year budget talks before the district could make any firm financial commitments. Officials also hope to find grants to offset costs.
“It’s way too soon to know what we’re going to be able to do,” he said. “We have to put all of our educational priorities first. What we don’t want to do is say, ‘No. We’re not going to do anything,’ and the track doesn’t get repaired. It’s still being worked out.”
Council awarded a $22,780 tree removal contract to BeaverJack Tree Service in mid-October.
Nine trees were cut down and root barriers were installed at five of them.
“The decision to remove the trees was not an easy one,” Councilwoman Leah Powers said. “(It) was only agreed upon after consulting with a forester from the Pennsylvania Department of Natural Resources, a landscape architect from Environmental Planning and Design, and members of the Oakmont Shade Tree Commission.”
She said commission member Jonathan Dreher created a plan to plant 10 new trees. It’s unclear when that would occur.
Council last month authorized Pittsburgh-based Environmental Planning and Design to prepare bid documents for the track repair project.
Rometo said he’s hopeful the park will be ready for competition soon.
“I was very happy to hear of the approval to remove the trees and bid preparation,” he said. “I think things are moving in the right direction.”
Proposals are due at the borough office by Feb. 14, the same day bids will be opened.
The contract could be awarded at council’s 7 p.m. Feb. 18 voting meeting.
It is possible the track could be closed for a third season due to the lack of financial commitment from the district for repairs.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, email@example.com or via Twitter .