Access to the New York State School for the Deaf’s (NYSSD) track by the public is being restricted, in connection with concerns about some people’s behavior when using the facility.

The track, located near the corner of Turin and North Madison streets, has long been frequently used by the community for exercise such as walking and running.

“To protect the health and safety of students, use of the track by non-students is restricted during the academic day,” state Education Department spokesman J.P. O’Hare said Tuesday in a statement. “Community members wishing to access the track will have access prior to 7:30 a.m.” and after 3:30 p.m. “as well as on the weekends.”

The restrictions are year-round including summer weekdays, according to the state Education Department. The academic year continues throughout the summer for extended school-year programs from 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, the department said.

In addition, the restrictions apply to school breaks or other days that school is not in session.

The Education Department did note that outside organizations or events may be scheduled for use of the track when school is not in session.

The department indicated the change reflects concerns regarding community members acting in a disruptive manner on the track. This has included not walking on the outside of the track or trying to remain separate from the students, thus interfering with physical education classes, according to the department. It also referred to community members on the playground leaving beer cans, smoking on school grounds and attempting to enter school buildings.

NYSSD, at 401 Turin St. on approximately 17 acres overall, is part of the state Education Department system. It includes pre-K to grade 12 students from various locations in the state. Its enrollment at the start of the 2018-19 school year was 57.

The Daily Sentinel asked the Education Department about the NYSSD track’s status after recently receiving a letter to the editor from Brian Brown of Rome. Brown said “after decades of being open to the public for use, the track…is now off-limits to people wanting to use it for daily exercise. The gated entrance to the track is now locked and if it does happen by chance to be open, walkers and joggers are being forced to leave.”

Brown asked “what has changed from decades of goodwill toward the public” and vice-versa? He further said “there has never been any issue with public use of the track before. People are there simply to use the track for its intended purpose and now are being turned away. Why?”

Brown additionally referred to the school having a new superintendent. Joyce Long was approved in May by the state Board of Regents as superintendent, succeeding David Hubman who retired effective March 27.