Dome to allow runners
Published 10:45 am Thursday, January 21, 2016
The dome over Art Hass Field has gotten a fair amount of use from walkers since opening, but some want to break free and run. Now, they’ll get their chance.
The dome at the Wescott Athletic Complex was originally set up for only walkers to use on track, according to an email sent by the school district. Yet after community feedback, organizers will open the track for runners as well.
“Our original intent was to provide a place for the community to walk since the mall has been closed. Our concern for the safety of walkers was the determining factor to restrict running,” the email stated. “Upon evaluation we have decided to open the dome to runners with specified directions and rules.”
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Runners and walkers will proceed in opposite direction to each other, with runners on the outside and walkers on the inside of the track. Since opening to the public on Dec. 14, 2015, Director of Facility Services Mat Miller said there have been many activities and a lot of people using the track.
“It has been going well,” Miller said. “We’ve had people renting it, we’ve had a significant number of walkers in there. I think that’s been the most surprising thing for me — and honestly encouraging thing — is to see how many individuals in the community have been taking advantage of the free walking hours.”
Miller said he has only heard a handful of people ask about running, but he doesn’t receive all of the community feedback and others may have gotten more requests.
“I’ve probably heard of like four or five people that have requested or have tried to run in the dome, and we’ve just asked them at that point not to run in the dome since at that time it was for walkers only,” Miller said.
However, a letter to the editor run early this week in the Herald sparked discussion online and around town about allowing runners along with walkers.
The track is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and a schedule can be found online at www.austin.k12.mn.us/activities/packer-dome/default.aspx.
Miller hopes everyone can continue to be respectful to each other on the track as they test out having both runners and walkers. He said organizers have been doing a lot of trial and error during the first few months of running the dome and he hopes community members can be patient and continue to give constructive feedback.
“We’re going to try it out and see how it goes,” he said. “And that’s kind of been a running theme as we put the dome out. We’re learning a ton as we work through the dome and the intricacies … it’s definitely been a work and progress.”
“This is an opportunity to give it a shot and we’ll try it and see how it goes to have runners and walkers cohabitate,” Miller said.
All ages have used the dome, from young mothers and children to senior citizens. Miller said there has been a lot of interest from surrounding and a little bit further away communities for renting the dome or using it for different athletic tournaments.
Upcoming open dome dates are Jan. 26 from 1 to 3 p.m. and Jan. 28 from 9 to 11 a.m. These two open dome events are specifically designed for families with young children as an opportunity to come out and play. Kid friendly activities like bean bags, balls and parachutes will be available for play. The cost of the open dome is $2 per child or $5 per family.
For more information on the dome or to schedule your event contact Dan Ball at 507-460-1928.