Heights High School business manager Tracy Hernandez knows that the school’s track is central to many community members, giving them an easy neighborhood spot to exercise.
As such, this week’s milestone was a particularly noteworthy one for the community. As Heights joined the rest of the Houston Independent School District in welcoming its students back for the 2021-2022 school year, the school also unveiled its school track that recently received a facelift almost a year in the making.
Over the years, Hernandez said the track had become worn down to the point that it was extremely unsafe for student athletes and community members to use it, turning what is typically a community asset into an eyesore.
During the course of the project, Hernandez said there was a repair or replacement of the rubber material in between the concrete and the surface of the track, which had become exposed prior to its facelift. It was funded using allocated funds from the school’s improvement budget according to Hernandez, who handles the budget and facility management.
However, she was initially unable to provide an exact cost for the project.
“It was essentially just concrete that was there and needed to be fixed,” she said. “The majority of our school uses it, and then a lot of our community members use it as well. So, it needed to be repaired.”
The lane lines were also repainted on the track earlier this month, returning the track once again to its former glory. It is once again available for community use, and walk-through gates have been installed on both 13th and 14th streets.
Those gates are unlocked after school is over and the Bulldogs’ athletes have finished using the field for their practices, Hernandez said, and will remain open each weekend.
“When you improve your property, it makes it looks nice, and it makes the students proud that they have a nice track which is safe,” she said. “With the damage it had before, it was not safe to use and (this project) took care of that.”
It is a worthwhile project, Hernandez said, and the school is trying to keep it that way. A post on Heights High School’s PTO website said the school is encouraging community members who use the track to refrain from using strollers, bicycles, or skateboards on the track.
No pets are allowed, according to the school.
“In order to preserve the condition of the track for the next decade, the school is asking that everyone assist in taking care of it,” the PTO said on its website.
What’s more, Hernandez believes the rejuvenated track will be a draw for Bulldog athletes, supporters and community members alike. She said that when it is in use, there are several hundred Houstonians from around the area coming to utilize the asset.
“Not only do people who live in the neighborhood use it to walk and run, but I have seen numerous organizations like running clubs come and use it as well,” she said. “We’re so central (in the community), so I think that makes it a lot more convenient for a lot of groups.”