Track Bids Higher Than Expected
By: Mary Stanley
The Sandwich Sports Complex Committee has hit another hurdle in its efforts to build a new running track and sports field at Sandwich High School that will likely delay the project several months.
Bids for the first phase of the project, which calls for the replacement of the track and upgrades to the interior football field, came in higher than originally anticipated.
“The lowest bid was $1.1 million,” said James J. Lehane, chairman of the public relations and marketing subcommittee, about $300,000 more than expected.
With exactly $1.1 million in the SSCC’s budget, it would leave little room for contingency money, funds that would be used to pay for any unanticipated expenses.
David J. DeConto, president of the SSCC, explained that the committee was expecting the bids for this phase of the project to come in at approximately $800,000.
“That was based on what our design engineers had seen with other, similar projects,” he said.
However, he said, the committee was not expecting to have to replace a water drain pipe that lies underneath the area. Since the project calls for a six-lane track with an eight-lane straightaway, the interior football field will have to be widened to accommodate the track. “When we widened the field to accept the track, it put the track right over the water pipe, which has to be moved,” Mr. DeConto said.
Mr. DeConto said there is still the opportunity to replace that pipe now, and rebid the project based on just the track, field upgrades, and fencing. He said if the school committee agrees with that option, construction on the track would be begin in the late fall, after fall sports are completed. He said the timing would be better and the group had always preferred the late fall season for construction on the track.
“We had always planned to do the track in the off-season,” he said.
Mr. DeConto explained that this time of year tends to be slower for construction companies specializing in this type of work and therefore the prices might be a little more attractive. He likened it to taking a vacation during the off-season to get a better rate on air fare or hotel stays.
He said it would also give the committee some wiggle room in terms of getting the track completed in time for the spring sports season. He said if construction work had begun this summer, there was no room for delays on the project if they wanted the track and field ready for when school opens in the fall.
Mr. Lehane agreed and said the additional months would also give the committee time to raise some additional money.
He said he has already applied for some grants and it may be possible to come up with another $200,000 between now and September.
“We have many irons in the fire,” he said.
Mr. DeConto added that there is also an option of scaling back the project just a bit. He said instead of putting in a paved walkway that leads from the gymnasium doors at the side of the high school up to the field, the committee could decide to put in a stone dust walkway that could accept a paved walkway at a later date. This walkway has always been a part of this phase of the project. Mr. Lehane said the committee is also considering a brick campaign where individuals can donate money to have an engraved brick on the pathway.
The high school track was condemned seven years ago because of potholes and cracks in the surface and grass growing up in-between those cracks. The original committee that was formed to raise money to replace the track noticed that the interior playing field also needed improvements. For the past six years, the committee has been raising money through grant applications and other events to make this stadium complex a reality.
Funding has come from a variety of sources, including a $250,000 donation from the DeConto family, in memory of Captain Gerald F. DeConto, a Navy captain killed in the attack on the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
Two years ago voters approved spending $500,000 from the Community Preservation Account to fund the replacement of the condemned track, but then a question was raised as to whether Community Preservation Act funds could be used for such purposes. Last November, the SSCC received word from the town’s legal counsel that the money could be used for these purposes. With that confirmation, the committee began moving ahead into phase one of this sports stadium complex.
Mr. DeConto was planning to meet with school committee Chairman Sharron L. Marshall this week to go over the options.
“The school committee is the issuing authority and has to make the ruling,” he said.
Mr. DeConto is still optimistic that some preparation work can and will begin this summer, such as moving the water main.
“We’ve had hurdles before, but the project is still moving forward,” he said.
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