Group seeks to refresh track with Pepsi funds
By Amanda C. Davis
A local organization is soliciting votes in hopes of securing a grant to repave the cinder track at Firestone Park with an all-weather surface.
The $25,000 grant would come from the Pepsi Refresh Project, a PepsiCo initiative that awards money to individuals and groups with ideas to improve communities.
People can vote once every day during September by visiting http://pep.si/oDAQUA. In addition, one vote per day can be texted to 73774 with the message 108597.
There are also codes for “Power Votes” under the caps of Pepsi products. People can go online, enter the code and win up to 100 of these votes, which can be applied toward any project being considered for grants.
Crystal Siembida Boggs and her husband Josh Boggs are founders of Siembida & Boggs Philanthropic Foundation, the organization that applied for the grant. She said the project has been discussed for the last six years in the community.
If repaved, the track will have an all-weather surface to make it safer and more accessible.
She said the cinder track is uneven, unsafe and prone to flooding. “When it’s damp, it’s kind of like running on sand,” she said, explaining that makes it difficult for people to push strollers on the surface.
City Manager Keith Chamberlin said the cinder track was built in the 1930s and that some people use it now for exercise, but more would benefit if it’s resurfaced. “It would be nice to have it rebuilt,” he said.
The application and approval process has taken Siembida Boggs a year to complete. The $25,000 wouldn’t cover the entire project because it would include new drainage and curbing, in addition to the repaving, she said. If enough money is secured from other avenues, Siembida Boggs said the track could have a rubberized surface.
Siembida Boggs said the foundation is using social media such as Facebook to solicit votes, in addition to information posted on the organization’s and city’s websites. She also will be on hand at this weekend’s Columbiana Street Fair to gather support.
“We’re begging for votes,” she said, and added that there are more than 170 projects vying for money from PepsiCo. If the foundation does not get a Pepsi grant, Siembida Boggs said she would pursue other grants.
The foundation also is organizing the Clipper Classic Fall 5K, a cross-country race 9 a.m. Oct. 1 at Columbiana High School, 720 Columbiana-Waterford Road. It will raise money for the high school track and cross-country teams.
A small fee will be charged for parking at the school, but parking across the street is free. For more information on voting or the race, visit www.visionforveterans.org.