School To Host Public Meeting Tuesday

Woodbrook Elementary School Principal Dr. William Sterrett will host a public meeting Tuesday September 22, 2009 at 6:30 p.m. to hear neighbors’ comments on the new cinder track installed at the school this past summer. The track includes several connections to an existing trail system that runs behind the back yards of several Woodbrook residents.

New cinder track winds its way around the school’s baseball diamond and soccer fields. Several Woodbrook families have been seen enjoying the track during the evening hours and on weekends.

Our regular readers may recall our August report on the new track. The track was made possible in great part thanks to the generosity of Dr. Sterrett whose Milken Foundation award provided some of the funds to build it.

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

“We were very fortunate that Dave Mathews band through the Bama Works Grant Initiative added on to our award,” said Sterrett, during the August 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.

When asked during our August interview 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.

Since our interview in August, this blog has received several positive comments regarding the track. “Our house is also adjacent to the Woodbrook School property, and we are delighted with the addition of the track. It will make walking to school a much less soggy experience on dewy mornings and allows for easier bike riding and other strolling activities,” wrote Woodbrook residents Tina and Allen Goode in a comment posted on this blog. “We noticed an immediate increase of people walking around the grounds and using the track very appropriately. No one has tried to access the path to our house nor have we seen any inappropriate behavior,” added the Goodes. “As Woodbrook parents and neighbors we applaud the efforts being made to beautify and utilize the grounds which are central to our community,” they wrote.

Another Woodbrook resident, whose name we were unable to obtain permission to use said, “This track is a wonderful thing for our neighbors, young and old.” They went on to say, “However, whenever I take my children there in the evenings I always find that some people allow their dogs to do their business on the track and they do not clean up it. This evening alone I removed four such piles.”

Ginnie Daugherty, another Woodbrook resident, says that her family uses the track one to two times a week. In an e-mail message to this blog, Ginnie wrote, “I think it’s a fantastic addition to the school and the neighborhood. Children and adults need a safe, soft, level place to jog and walk. Plus, it gives parents an exercise option when their children are practicing (soccer, baseball, football) or playing at the school.” “It’s great to have a soft and level track so nearby.”

Not everyone, however, 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 an August telephone interview with this blog. 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.

When asked about neighborhood concerns about increased crime Sterrett said during our August interview, “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.

The Tuesday meeting will be held in the school library.