An all-weather track will be built at Payson High School this year thanks to taxpayers who donated who donated nearly $259,000 in the past two years to the Payson School District through the state's Credit for Kids tax program.
"The school board approved going to bid on the first phase of this," District Superintendent Herb Weissenfels said last week. "We've (set aside) $210,000 from Credit for Kids. We're hoping it'll be enough to put in an all-weather track and move the current bleachers to the other side of the field."
The track will be made of a weather-resistant rubberized material that is installed much like pavement, Bill Lawson, the Payson School District's director of curriculum and instruction, said.
Weissenfels said the next phase of stadium improvements includes building new bleachers on the south side of the stadium to seat up to 3,000 additional people.
"We'll also be completing restrooms for the Black Box Theater and the athletic field," he said.
"Further down the road, we hope to expand the concession stand, have additional fencing, sidewalks and storage facilities."
Weissenfels said the committee will be looking for additional sources of money to do the rest of the stadium improvements.
"Some will come from Credit for Kids, some will be raised outside the school," he said. "To do everything, we're talking about $750,000."
Weissenfels said the total project should take about three years to complete.
He said one reason for doing the project in phases is that it will provide a much-needed all-weather track for students and people in the community who want to run, jog or walk on a smooth surface.
As with all school facilities, members of the community at large will be allowed to use the track, but student activities and events will be given first priority.
"It will also bring our facility up to what other schools in our league have," he said. "Most 3-, 4- and 5A schools have all-weather tracks. We're looking at going 4A in a year or two. With an all-weather track and expanded seating, we hope to have an opportunity to host district-, regional- and state-level competitions."
Weissenfels said that the all-weather track could also be used for town-sponsored events, track clubs and college scrimmages. It could even provide a high-altitude training facility for national teams preparing for national and international competition, he said.
The stadium committee of 17 people includes volunteers from the school and the community, some of whom have been working on the project for as long as seven years.
The committee will continue to raise money to expand the present funds, Weissenfels said. "This is so we can do as much as we can as quickly as we can.
"We hope to have the track ready by mid-August. A year ago, the governing board promised to put the Credit for Kids money aside for this. We've pooled two years of Credit for Kids money together. Now people will be able to see what they've contributed to -- a facility to be proud of for both the community and the school.
"Personally, I'm really excited about it because it finally brings to fruition a dream that people have had for many years. I'm very grateful to those working on the committee who helped pull this together."