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Funds allocated for Hilo High track improvements, other island school projects

July 16, 2017 - 12:05am

HILO — Hilo High School’s aging dirt track and uneven athletic field could be getting an upgrade — and give runners a bounce in their steps.

Earlier this year, lawmakers allocated $4.4 million in capital improvement project funding to renovate the high school’s track and field, as well as upgrades to its auditorium and locker rooms.

Coaches at Hilo High School say the track and field renovation is long overdue. The track was constructed decades ago from a cinder material and has never been revamped, only resurfaced, as material wears away from the weather. The field also can’t officially host football or soccer games because it is positioned at a slope.

“Our track is very old and it’s still a cinder-style track,” athletic director Kurt Kawachi said. “One of the projects we hope to improve on is getting a synthesized, rubberized track. Along with that, our football field inside the track is (positioned) at a slant. It’s not conforming to standard. One of the things we’re also trying to do is level the playing surface.”

The track and field project was earmarked about $1.25 million of the $4.4 million. Most of the remaining funding was earmarked for upgrading the auditorium.

Rep. Chris Todd, D-Hilo, also a Hilo High football coach, said the $1.25 million could be used for immediate basic upgrades — within the next three to four years — or set aside toward a future full-scale renovation with additional amenities such as bleachers and new restrooms. A full-scale renovation would probably happen within about six years, he said.

Hilo High is among eight Hawaii Island schools slated to receive nearly $20 million in capital improvement funding this year. Funding covers fiscal years 2018 and 2019. It still must be released by Gov. David Ige in order to be spent.

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