Runners fight to save North Charleston track

Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 4:59 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 19, 2022 at 7:13 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - More than 800 people have signed a petition to save a running track that is likely to be eliminated because of new editions at a North Charleston facility.

Improvements coming to the Danny Jones Athletic Facility will include a new aquatics center and a gymnasium. But with the new additions, City of North Charleston spokesperson Ryan Johnson said the footprint of the building will increase, leading to space constraints on the site, which will eliminate the track itself.

Johnson said the football field currently at the site will remain.

An area running club, the Park Circle Pacers, has 300 members, including 100 active members. They practice at the Danny Jones track regularly for their Tuesday evening workouts. Members of the group say that losing the track would be a huge loss for not only them, but for the whole community.

A walking and biking trail will surround the site, but members say that’s not enough.

Member Erin Atkinson said the track provides safety features that you can’t get while running on the street or sidewalks.

“The hazards that I see every day, between sidewalks not being cleared, having debris or trash there, motorists not paying attention, or sometimes being hostile towards runners or walkers,” Atkinson said. “Having an area like this where you can just focus on your workout and getting in some fitness without having to worry about your safety is key.”

Brian Johnson is a cross country and track and field coach at Academic Magnet. To Johnson, losing the track would make it harder for his team to get to a facility to practice since the track is close to their school now.

“So many times, you have teenagers traveling to go practice somewhere,” Johnson said. “That adds a liability.”

Michelle Huntley isn’t part of the running group but lives a half mile away in Park Circle. She said when she walks or drives by the track, she sees people utilizing it morning, noon, and night.

“You just don’t see that with other recreation facilities, something that’s used so frequently,” Huntley said.

The city said the projected completion time for the project is late 2023.

“To lose this track would be a travesty,” said Lionel Adams, at-large director for the Road Runners Club of America. “We just can’t see this empowering everyone to run if this is missing.”

Members say they plan on speaking at the next North Charleston City Council meeting.

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