The St. Charles Parish School Board voted unanimously last week to replace the track at Hahnville High School at a cost of nearly $500,000.
The current track has been a source of contention for the board after it was only functional for seven years. Due to parts of the current track sinking into the ground and other deterioration it was not made available for the current track season.
Only two bids were submitted for the project; one for $498,168 by Beynon Sports and the other coming in at around $76,000 less by Texas-based Hellas Construction. Other companies to attend the pre-bid meeting, but who did not submit a bid were Geopave, Hayden Paving, Eagle Golf and Athletics and Texas Sports Builders. Beynon Sports, the winner of the bid to build the new track, is a division of FieldTurf Tarkett who built the artificial turf field at Hahnville back in 2008.
Some school board members expressed concern that they were only allowed to vote on the Beynon Sports bid due to the Hellas Construction bid not meeting specifications of construction required by the bid contract. Officials at Hellas said the bidding system was skewed in the favor of the Beynon track.
School engineer Danny Hebert said the board members had visited a track built by Hellas that met the specifications, but it was not the same track Hellas later submitted for the bid. Hebert said the specifications for the track were so stringent so as to ensure the new track lasted longer than the current one has.
Specifications not met by Hellas included having at least 20 installs of the same track, a ten-year warranty and composing the track of at least a specific percentage of polyurethane and rubber in its construction.
District 1 member Ellis Alexander said he would like to have thrown out both bids and changed some of the specifications before opening up the process again to entice more competition amongst track building firms on the project.
"I donít see any big rush in doing this because we are going to miss this track season and the next track season doesnít start until March of next year," Alexander said. "This was unusual that we only had two bids. Normally we have more than two and itís very rare we disqualify anybody."
Alexanderís suggestion was not taken up for a vote though and the measure passed unanimously.
In the boardís committee meeting talks of pursuing possible legal action against Mondo USA, the contractors who built the current track in 2004, were revived. Even though the current trackís warranty expired after five years board Vice-President Clarence Savoie suggested they examine the current track before replacing it with the new. Savoie said he would like to determine if a lawsuit may be pursued against Mondo for using faulty construction methods and not meeting the specifications set forth by the board.