Brittney Burns – Staff Writer
Despite a more than $50,000 resurfacing project at the Franklin High School track, the new surface is bubbling up, making it unsafe for track meets to be held and causing concerns for members in the community.
When the company who won the bid to resurface the track did so, they made officials aware that no warranty would be given on the project.
“We expected issues with the track resurfacing project,” said Macon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin. “Companies that would speak with us regarding resurfacing the track stated that they would not accept our track as a project due to its age and condition. None of the resurfacing companies would provide a warranty for their surface due to the age and condition of the FHS Track. We did not expect to have issues this soon after the track surface was applied nor did we expect that the issues would be as extensive and as wide spread as we are seeing.”
Concerns surrounding the state of the Franklin High School track and football field have been a recurring theme amongst school officials for years. Heavy rains flood the football field and drainage issues and water flow from Ulco Drive have remained constant problems for school officials. While the track around the football field was deteriorating and in poor shape, school officials left the track and field needs off the school’s capital outlay need requests year after year because actually fixing the problem would cost more than $1 million and likely prevent any school sports from being held during the repair process.
Without funds or time to rip up the entire field and track and fix the drainage issues, which is also causing problems in the adjacent parking lot, band-aids have been placed on the project with school officials just trying to make-do. Last year, when a private donor pledged $27,500 to fix the deteriorating track, school officials began seeking additional funds for the project.
At the request of the Macon County School board, county commissioners allocated $15,606.25 toward the project and with $15,606.25 in matching funds from the school district, the school board was able to secure $58,712.50 needed to resurface the track.
Shortly after the track was resurfaced this summer, areas of the track began to bubble up, which according to FHS Athletic Director Jay Brooks was caused due to excess water on the track.
“The pavement being wet underneath the rubber is causing the problem,” said Brooks. “The whole track / field area is wet.”
According to Brooks, the company that completed the resurfacing this summer plans to come back to FHS soon to address a few of the specific spots that are causing the most concern.
When Macon County Commissioner Ronnie Beale made the motion to allocate $15,606.25 in taxpayer dollars to the project, he did so citing the desire to host home track meets at Franklin High School again. According to both Brooks and Dr. Baldwin, because of the current state of the newly resurfaced track, home meets will not be possible, but hopefully the track issues will be resolved by next season.
Brooks said if time and money wasn’t an issue for the project, the ideal, and undeniably costly, solution to the problem would be to take up all of the pavement around the track, put down new pavement and then put new runner on top of it.
“The resurfacing company expected better results from the initial application of the surface and has agreed to come back in October and repair some of the areas with a different substance at no charge,” said Dr. Baldwin. “If this repair is successful, we could repair all of the bubbled areas in the spring prior to track season. An optional course of action to be considered [at the budget workshop Wednesday] is to repair all of the bubbled areas in October. Repairing all of the bubbled areas, whenever the repair happens, will require a significant allocation of capital outlay funds.”