The Tamaqua Area School District has renovated its high school sports stadium and wants to keep it and its other athletic facilities in good condition.
The district's Auxiliary Committee met Tuesday evening and discussed emphasizing guidelines for spectators viewing extra-curricular events, as well as youth coaches using its fields.
Tamaqua Area Sports Stadium has undergone a facelift, with the renovations including a $600,000 synthetic, all-weather track and event staging areas, done in blue polyurethane to match the school colors; new lighting fixtures, fencing and freshly painted bleachers; and a new scoreboard.
The refurbishing of the stadium was accomplished through private donors, including the former J.E. Morgan Knitting Mills/Sara Lee of Hometown, the John E. Morgan Foundation and recent Tamaqua Area graduating classes, which donated the scoreboard. Because of this, the improvements came at practically no cost to district taxpayers.
An estimated crowd of 2,500 turned out last Friday night to watch Tamaqua's football season opener against Jim Thorpe.
Michael Hromyak, the district's director of athletics, told the committee two issues regarding spectator use at the stadium include handicapped parking and the bringing of pets onto the grounds.
The district does allow for a number of handicapped parking spaces within the stadium during games but attempts to keep vehicles from parking on grassy areas, which are used as practice areas.
Accomodating every vehicle seeking handicapped parking inside the stadium isn't possible, however.
"I think the number we allowed in was above and beyond," said Hromyak. "Some were turned away to handicapped areas in front of the middle school. There are also a couple of spots in front of the natatorium (behind the stadium)."
Superintendent Carol Makuta noted the area in front of the high school is designated as a no-parking zone and violators can be ticketed or towed.
Another issue with parking regards those who use the fields at Tamaqua and West Penn Elementary Schools.
The Tamaqua Elementary School field is on top of a steep hill and is used by youth soccer and other organizations. There is a macadam area with a playground at one end.
Hromyak said spectators should refrain from parking on the playground. "We allow for those who need assistance to be driven up to the playground, then park at the bottom," he stated.
West Penn Elementary has a similar problem. Assistant Superintendent Raymond J. Kinder explained the upper field at the school is used by youth baseball and soccer and that trenches are created on the upper field by vehicles, which could fill with anti-freeze or fuel leaks.
"They also need to take into consideration the conditions," said Kinder. "They leave tracks on the grassy slopes, and if it's wet, they slide and can hit trees there."
"This has been a thorn in my side for awhile," said School Board President Larry A. Wittig. "Where do you draw the line? You have head coaches who have to carry equipment, but the assistant coaches don't and park up there."
Kinder said coaches of the youth sports are busy with coaching their players and end up trying to police parking areas as well, which is difficult. "We're asking for the cooperation of the community to help out with this," he stressed.
The district is hoping for the same with the policing of pets, which are not allowed on school grounds, said Hromyak.
"We've had dogs at games, and they are not allowed," remarked Hromyak, citing potential cleanliness issues.
Kinder also mentioned concerns about dogs biting someone or getting loose on school property. He noted the matter isn't isolated to dogs, either. "One time, we had someone bring a snake," he related.
Two fans brought their dogs onto the sidewalk outside the stadium, then stepped into the street when approached because they think having the dog on the street is all right, explained Kinder.
The district is preparing signs to post on the grounds that will indicate pets are prohibited, added Hromyak.
Makuta also reinforced that smoking, including smokeless tobacco, is not allowed on school grounds.
Makuta said the district is observing traffic patterns in and out of the stadium. It was noted that kids congregated on the synthetic javelin runway behind the home bleachers Friday night. Facilities coordinator Arthur Oakes, Jr., will be installing fencing around that area, she noted.