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OHS to get new track; OEHS will be resurfaced : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
OHS to get new track; OEHS will be resurfaced
Board OKs contract in split, 4-2 vote; repair work also set at other schools

by Natalie Stevens


Come spring, Oswego High School athletes will be running on a new, eight-lane track, as one of several projects approved by the Oswego School District Board.

School board members held a lengthy discussion over the approval of multiple district-wide maintenance and improvement projects during a meeting June 9, with much of the attention focused on track improvements at both high schools.

Oswego High School will receive a new track with an additional eighth lane and Oswego East High School's track will be resurfaced. The total cost for the project is expected to be $549,539, just under the budgeted amount of $565,000 according to school documents.

The projects were approved in a 4-2 vote, with several board members critical of adding an eighth lane at Oswego High School.

Board member Brent Lightfoot said he visited the OHS track and expressed concerns over the current location of the pole vault and high jump fence.

"The particular placements of the mats (for the pole vault) are in such a position they're brought up right to the track," explained Lightfoot. "When there's a track meet operating they actually have to stop running on the track and put additional mats down for safety."

In the bid package for the track replacement and resurfacing, there were several alternate options, including the demoltion and reconstruction of the pole vault as well as the installation of a new surface for the high jump track. Those alternate options, provided by the Geneva Construction Company, would have cost $14,265 and $20,597, respectively.

"They are alternates that are not being voted on," Lightfoot said.

The alternate option of the reconstruction of a new pole vault though would not solve the problem, noted board member Danielle Paul, as the vault would not be relocated.

The only alternate from the bid package to make it to the table was Alternate B - the widening of the OHS track to eight lanes with a finish surface of latex/rubber for $43,371. Other options included substituting a 13 mm polyurethane surface for both high school tracks, the additional eighth lane and high jump in place of the latex/rubber surface.

Lightfoot also commented that the irrigation system for Oswego High School's football field may have to be addressed in the future, which could pose difficulties for the new track.

"If we're putting (in) a new track ... and in a year from now we have to put in major repairs to the irrigation system-- are we risking damages to the track?" he said.

Continuing, Lightfoot said he heard feedback from parents and coaches about the condition of the track and understands it needs to be replaced, but said there will still be issues that adding an eighth lane won't entirely solve.

Superintendent Dr. Matthew Wendt said the district didn't "disagree that those need to be addressed," but those issues did not make the primary list.

"We know there are needs. We just have a lot of projects," he said.

Wendt added that the district might be looking at something to prevent the need for a sprinkler system at the OHS football field, which would remove the concern regarding the irrigation system.

Lightfoot suggested modifying the motion and eliminating the inclusion of the eighth lane to "save that money" and "develop a plan to alleviate the current placement of pole vaulting."

It was seconded by Paul, but failed in a 4-2 vote, with Paul and Lightfoot voting in favor.

Discussion turned to how the topic of an eighth lane came up and who suggested it in the first place. Vice President Alison Swanson said she had made the suggestion.

Various board members and administration said the school's athletic director had also requested an eighth lane.

Lightfoot told the board though that the, "Track coach actually said they would rather we not even do the track this year until we can do everything all at once and do it correctly."

That prompted Wendt to say he was, "Trying to determine if we're listening to the athletic director or track coach."

"I don't mean that in an offensive way because we have a number of staff at different levels that want certain things," Wendt said. "Quite frankly I think we're going down a difficult pathway. I can respect people's opinions on staff, but I'm challenged with what to do with that in the future when other staffs have similar or different ideas."

Wendt expressed disappointment that a conversation didn't occur between all of the parties involved. He said he expected the athletic directors and administration to "recommend what we need" and he would "love to see the eighth lane."

Board member Mike McDowell asked if there was a way to bid out all of the projects - the track and the pole vault and high jump - and wait for a new bid to come in for the next meeting in two weeks.

Board president Bill Walsh said there wasn't any way to get a bid back as quickly as two weeks.

"What I was told (was) if we don't move on this project it doesn't get done for next track season. Is that a true statement?" Wendt asked. He received confirmation that was correct from Mike Barr, the district's director of facility construction and development.

In a 4-2 vote, the board approved the resurfacing of both high school tracks and the addition of the eighth lane at OHS along with the two other bid projects for a total of $1,707,670. Bauman, Swanson, McDowell and Walsh voted in favor and Lightfoot and Paul voted against. Board member Greg O'Neil was absent from the meeting.

The track resurfacing and addition of the eighth lane will be awarded to Geneva Construction from Aurora, Ill., who submitted the lowest base bid. Abbey Paving in Aurora, Ill. submitted the other bid for $719,520.

Other bids also awarded were again to Geneva Construction in the amount of $965,530 for the pavement Improvements at Wolf's Crossing Elementary, Bednarcik Junior High, Brokaw Early Learning and Thompson Junior High. They were once again the low bid against Abbey Paving.

According to school documents, Geneva Construction has successfully completed numerous pavement projects throughout the school district on time and within budget.

The final project bid was awarded to Denler Inc. from Mokena, Ill. in the amount of $192,600 for district wide sealcoating and striping. The other bid was submitted by Chuck Strayve Landscaping from West Chicago, Ill. for $407,666.

The sealcoating and striping will be performed at Thompson Junior High, Plank Junior High, Fox Chase Elementary, Prairie Point Elementary, Grande Park Elementary, Churchill Elementary, Wolf's Crossing Elementary, Lakewood Creek Elementary, Homestead Elementary, The Wheatlands Elementary, Oswego East High School and Brokaw Early Learning.

All three projects were budgeted for a total of $1.45 million, which they exceeded by $250,670.

Lightfoot asked the board if there was any way to delay one of the pavement improvements for a year so the district could maintain the budget.

President Walsh said he understood the concern of the budget, but said, "If we delayed some of it and did it next year the cost would only be higher. Materials and labor would increase within (the) next 12 months." He added that the budget was just an estimate.

Other projects across the district that may soon be discussed include the Oswego East High School swimming pool and tennis courts.

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