Athletics track plan hits new hurdle

2011-02-08 00:00

LAST week saw another false start for the development of the city’s long-awaited athletics track.

Following recent articles in The Witness about the frustration of the local and provincial athletics community over the lack of progress in construction of a track, a meeting between KZN Athletics president Aleck Skhosana and Mayor Mike Tarr was scheduled for last Wednesday.

Although Skhosana travelled to the mayor’s office, the meeting came to naught when the mayor and his staff did not arrive at the designated time. It was said the meeting had not been placed in the mayor’s diary.

The construction of the track was approved in 2002, but the intervening nine years have been marked by delays and changes in direction.

The mayor used his speech at the recent launch of the Witness Maritzburg Marathon to assure the public and media that he is not aware of any reason for the track to be delayed and he had set up the meeting for the following week. He went on to confirm that a solution has been found for the concerns of providing traffic officers for local road races.

“I understood that there was a municipal infrastructure grant (MIG) for the track,” said Tarr speaking to The Witness yesterday. “However, this does not seem to be in place at present, but we will have our first draft of the budget by March 8 and it can be included in that.”

The mayor confirmed that he is setting up a meeting with Skhosana, local athletics representatives, and department of Sport and Recreation to plot a way forward.

“The land near the cycle track is available, but it seems there may be a need for a larger area for parking,” continued Tarr. “Once the facility is provided it could be handed over to athletics to run.”

Said Skhosana, “We certainly feel it is vital that the track be accessible to everyone, which means it must be close to or accessible by transportation at all times.

“There are many facility leasing and management models, so we will need to appraise the various proposals so that it best serves athletics and local communities.”

By yesterday afternoon it seemed the parties were once again lining up on the start line in a bid to get the track on track. Whether they can make it to the finish without being red-carded for another false start remains to be seen.

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