Plans for a "softer" track at Soldiers Memorial Field Park could be nearing their final lap.
A plan to rebuild the aged cinder track with a new surface that creates an equivalent running surface is expected to be delivered to the Rochester Parks and Recreation Department this week.
"It fits as well as we can," said David Morrill, a Rochester civil engineer working with grassroots Save the Track group on a plan for the track.
The city’s Park Board opted to delay plans to replace the existing cinder track with an asphalt oval last month.
Mike Nigbur, the city’s park and forestry division head, said the new plan is expected to fit a slightly smaller footprint to allow for the sloping landscape between the park’s pool house and the track.
Morrill said the proposal will still include a 400-meter regulation track, but it will be reduced to six lanes to accommodate space demands. Using a crushed limestone product with a reddish tint, the track proposal will center on existing lights and provide a drainage plan for the track and field.
Nigbur and Morrill provided an update on work leading to the plans to the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission on Tuesday, since the park is designated as a potential city landmark.
Final decisions will be in the hands of the Park Board, which is expected to review the proposal during its meeting on Tuesday.
If the plans meet expectations, Nigbur said bids for the project could be sought for review and approval at the Park Board’s November meeting.
Nigbur said Tuesday preliminary discussions indicate the plans provide a compromise that meets the Parks and Recreation Department’s goals.
"Our charge as a parks department was to provide a running and event space," he said, noting the most efficient option appeared to be an asphalt track.
The Save the Track organization opposed the plan and pitched the option for helping fund a different path, which could come with added construction and maintenance expenses.
The Park Board indicated it’s willing to fund approximately $295,000 —the cost of an asphalt surface — toward construction, if the Save the Track group covers any added expense.
As of Wednesday afternoon, an online fundraiser in the group’s name had raised $8,562 in pledges, which was up from nearly $7,700 in mid-August.
Nigbur said the group’s participation in the project is expected to help offset potential financial risks related to using the new surface product on a track that will host running events, as well as festivals involving food trucks and other equipment. .
"They are going to be absorbing some of the risk long-term for maintenance and other issues," he said.
The Save the Track group is planning an all-comers adult track meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday to help raise funds for resurfacing the track. Events will range from 100-meter to 3,200-meter races, with a $25 registration fee.