Soldiers Field Park changes not setting well with many in Rochester

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — It’s been almost two weeks since the Rochester Parks Board voted to pave over the Soldiers Field Park with asphalt. But many in the community are still feeling blindsided by the decision.

Soldiers Field Park track

The Rochester Track Club says they had been working on a track alternative to asphalt, one that gives runners a better surface, but also allows for food trucks and vendors to be there during events such as Rochesterfest.

Gwen Jacobson has been a member of the track club for years and says they were told they’d have until June to come up with their proposed alternative. When the Parks Board went ahead and made their decision on May 7th.

Soldiers Field Park track

“Unfortunately Soldiers Field Track has not been maintained for nearly the past 20 years and unfortunately it’s been allowed to settle, so that when it rains, it gets wet and muddy like this. We can’t hold kids track meets on a track like this, just as well as you can’t have events here when it’s like this, but there are alternatives to asphalt,” said Jacobson.

The alternatives Jacobson refers to is the club’s proposal of a “beam-clay” material. At the May 7th meeting, the Parks Board said it would be more costly than asphalt.

However, Jaccbson thinks the numbers the board had are skewed and not accurate. Some professional athletes also believe the asphalt track would be a bad decision for the city.

Soldiers Field Park track

“This would be where my Tuesday mornings or my Thursday afternoons would be spent, grinding it out on this track. There isn’t a whole lot of data suggesting that asphalt causes injuries or is worse for your joints, but I sure do feel differently,” added Ruth Brennan Morrey, a Professional Triathlete.

Since the decision, Jacobson has started a petition against the asphalt track, that now has nearly 900 signatures. They plan on bringing a new proposal to the Parks Board’s next meeting.

At the last meeting Parks Board President Vern Yetzer said he believes the asphalt track was a cost effective compromise for the entire community.

Holden Krusemark

Holden Krusemark

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