Oleai track facility needs repair, again

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Temporary repair has been done in the damaged surface at the Oleai Sports Complex track oval. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

With the CNMI hosting the Pacific Mini Games two years from now, the Oleai Sports Complex track and field facility will have to undergo repair work anew.

The track just went through resurfacing last year, but signs of damage have been seen with the rubberized turf along with its other features, no thanks to Super Typhoon Yutu that hit the island in October last year.

Greg Iginoef, head of maintenance for the Northern Marianas Sports Association, which manages and operates the Oleai Sports Complex, said that NMSA has been slowly renovating the track facility. He said that they are fixing the track’s surface, railings, and drainage. Iginoef added they also need equipment for the facility.

“For the Mini Games, we just need to make those small repairs. Some of the surface is peeling off and when you walk on it, you will see some cracks on the track from the tin roof during Yutu. We need to order some more stuff for the hammer throw, and waterblast the track,” Iginoef said.

However, Iginoef belives that minor renovations won’t suffice if the goal is to prolong the facility’s life span.

“I think we should redo the track because if we just resurface those small damages, we’ll never know where the water is and it’s going to peel off in three to four years, again. I think we should redo it to make it last another 10 to 15 years, instead of just making repairs and seeing bubbles in four to five years,” the NMSA staff added.

Iginoef said that the money to renovate and repair the track, along with the rest of the facilities at the Oleai Sports Complex, will come from the funding allocated to NMSA by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Meanwhile, Northern Marianas Athletics president Ray Tebuteb said that the track facility is “repairable” and although there are major renovations needed, a redo may not be necessary.

Tebuteb, however, reiterated that it is critical to bring the facility back to International Association of Athletics Federation certification standards and maintain that grade.

“I’m going to say it’s 50-50, between minor and major repairs. I’m talking about keeping it at that certification level (Level II). You also have to look at it being a community property. There are certain things you have to do to keep up with that,” said.

Tebuteb added that the current repairs to the track are temporary and a permanent fix is forthcoming.

“If you walk the track, you’ll see the damage from the typhoon, but because of the events that we have had, we had to temporarily patch those up, but that’s not a professional job. The concern is our athletes’ safety when on the track, that’s why we had temporary repairs,” he said.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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