by Andrew Garda
It seems the groundbreaking on the new track at Woodman Field will have to wait.
That’s because during the Board of Education’s last meeting on Monday, June 18, they voted to reject all bids for the project.
“The board rejected the bids because they were over budget,” said Emidio D’Andrea, the schools’ business administrator and board secretary said on a phone call.
So it’s back to the literal drawing board for the project.
“I have a meeting scheduled with the architects to talk about a re-bid date,” D’Andrea said. “And see if there is a way we can either scale back the project or find additional funding to do the project. At this point in time, there’s no re-bid date at this point.”
The track project had been budgeted for $1.075 million — which includes architect fees — at a Montclair Town Council meeting in March of this year.
Originally one of several upgrades for the Montclair High School athletic fields and surfaces originally proposed in November 2017, the track, along with Fortunato Field were earmarked as higher priorities, while Woodman and Watching Fields were shelved.
While the general belief is that the project is just replacing the track and the long jump area, there could be other costs which might be driving bids up. As details of the Woodman plans are not readily available to the public, it is also difficult to get a sense of what cost expectations should be.
For example, Midland Park’s junior/senior high school reportedly spent $1.5 million on a project which included a new 400-meter rubber track and event pads, an upgraded field, and new bleachers with an integrated press box in 2016. In another report, the town of Rutherford had bids ranging from $730,305 to $750,000 to replace the turf and track at Tyron Field. The field was closed starting June through September, according to Rutherford’s website.
The work included removing the existing turf and track surfacing, installing new turf and track surfaces, Rutherford logo and final cleanup.
This is a very small sample size, and both projects were bid on and completed well before the Woodman Track project was even conceived. While details of at least one of the plans for Midland Park are available online, the final details of both it and the Rutherford project were also not readily obtainable, and coupled with the lack of details known about the MHS project, there are likely significant differences between the plans from all three towns, as well as hidden costs with Montclair’s which are currently unknown.
The next BOE meeting is slated for July 12, and will hopefully result in the bid process beginning again.
Regardless, though, the process has been stalled long enough to where it is unlikely that this project will be executed before school starts in September. As there is little chance that the track would be worked on during fall sports season, given that Woodman Field hosts football, there’s a good chance that the resulting delay means the track will not be rebuilt before next summer.