Woodbrook Elementary Shares Track with Neighborhood

Woodbrook Elementary School has a new track thanks in great part to Principal Dr. William Sterrett whose Milken Foundation award provided some of the funds to build it. We talked to Dr. Sterrett Monday about the track and its relationship to the Woodbrook Neighborhood.

“We were very fortunate that Dave Mathews band through the Bama Works Grant Initiative added on to our award,” said Sterrett, during the Monday interview at his school office. The track, made of stone dust, is about a fifth of a mile long and cost about $8,500 from Sterrett’s money. The remaining $4,000 was covered by the Dave Mathews band.

But contrary to the report carried by the Daily Progress, only the track is new. “I think when the Daily Progress article came out that we were not clear about the fact that the track is something that we built – that doesn’t extend through the woods,” said Sterrett. “We have not removed a branch or a twig.”

And indeed he hasn’t. Following our interview in his office, Dr. Sterrett took me on a tour of the track and trails. While the paths are very well established in spots, the trail still looks completely natural.

When asked if the school was willing to share the track and trails with the Woodbrook Neighborhood Sterrett said, “We absolutely want the community to enjoy these [facilities].” Dr. Sterrett went on to say that community may use the track and trails following the same rules that have always applied to the using the school grounds — after school hours and before dark.

While several members of the Woodbrook Community have been seen enjoying the new track, not everyone is in favor of the development. “I worry that the track and nature trail will disturb my peace and enjoyment of my property,” said Audrey Kocher in a telephone interview last week. Ms. Kocher, whose property abuts the trail, said that she installed motion sensor lights and other security devices because of increased trespassing in her yard over the last several years. She feels that increased traffic on the track and trail will increase trespassing. “In the past I’ve had to call the police three and four times a week because there are people up there on the school ground in cars after 10 p.m.,” said Kocher. Ms. Kocher also told us that she frequently cleans up the loose brush and trash on the trail. “There have been two fires in the woods on the school property near my house in the last twelve years,” she said. Firemen at the scene indicated that the underbrush is a fire hazard.

When asked about neighborhood concerns about increased crime Sterrett said, “I spoke with a school board member about the possibility of adding a security camera” and reminded me that county police frequently park in the school parking lot while preparing their reports. “I encourage community members who see suspicious activities [on the school grounds] to contact the authorities,” he said.

“We didn’t have any sort of public forum for the track idea,” said Sterrett when asked if the Woodbrook Community has been involved in the project. When questioned if he would consider a future public meeting to address concerns like Audrey’s, Sterrett said “I’d like to encourage [a meeting with the community] particularly if we get into looking at [greater] use of our nature trails.” Sterrett would like to invite all Woodbrook Residents to attend a Woodbrook Grounds meeting on Tuesday evening, September 22nd at 6:30pm in the Woodbrook Library to discuss ideas, concerns, and future planning for this and other potential projects.

Listen to our full interview with Dr. Sterrett (32m)