Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

June 11, 2014

Crack in the track

District to remove trees that helped damage public, school track set for replacement


Mineral Wells Index

— By TYLER MASK



Mineral Wells High School’s Jackie Harvey Track Complex is up for a facelift this coming school year thanks to the bond election passing in November.

Although the dates are not hammered out just yet, the goal is to have a new track and field ready to go by track season. But one of the issues facing the track is humankind’s often tall and shady friend, the tree.

There are six trees around the track that, while they are getting big enough to provide shade and other environmental benefits, are also getting big enough to present a problem: cracking of the track.

Some might think it’s the roots breaking through the track, but that is not the case. It’s the roots absorbing much of the moisture in the ground, combined with the drought that has plagued Mineral Wells for years now.

“During this drought – especially the last few years – it just takes the water out,” Mineral Wells ISD Superintendent Gail Haterius said.

A geotech gave Haterius a short explanation to make sense of the problem. He told Haterius that a cedar tree four inches in diameter drinks 35 gallons of water a day, so for there to be a lack of moisture for the track with trees as big as they are makes sense.

Approximately 24 years ago, Central City Park Complex, home of Mineral Wells High School track and field, was born.

But the life of a track is projected at 20-30 years. This means the trees are not the only thing to blame for the track’s decay, but the trees will continue to grow and present more problems for the new track.

Now, time is of the essence. The trees must come out as soon as possible to counter the opposite problem – too much water.

“Once water is in there, and they are not sucking that water out, there’s a rebound effect,” Haterius said.

If the school took the trees out today and put up the new track by tomorrow, there could be a rebound effect on the track, causing humps from excess water in the middle of the track as opposed to cracks from too little water, Haterius explained.

“It’s really just a problem all across the way,” she said.

Keeping both parties’ interests in mind, i.e. the track and the trees, MWISD decided to look into moving the trees because moving the track was totally out of the question. Unfortunately, tree moving is a very costly venture. To move all six trees, MWISD would have to spend upwards of $60,000.

Regretfully, they had to nix the idea, Haterius said.

“We love those trees,” she said. “We think they are just beautiful. We researched about moving them, and as you can see, it’s not doable.”

Within the next few weeks, the trees will be cut down and uprooted. While this is the imminent solution, MWISD is not opposed to others coming in and uprooting the trees themselves.

“If anybody has a means to move a tree and they’d like one, we’d sure talk to them about it,” Haterius said. “We just wanted to let the public know that we are not somebody that is trying to get rid of trees, but we have no choice if we want to build a track that will have a good lifetime for us.”