School board unhappy with field completion

NEW MANCHESTER – The Hancock County school board has some lingering concerns about the completion of the Oak Glen High School Field of Dreams and the Multi-Sports Complex.

The Field of Dreams press box has metal doors that open out onto the ball field that board members feel are too heavy and unsafe. Board members also are concerned that the recently resurfaced track around the football field will not be ready for track season.

For the second time in as many months, board members peppered Ron Blatt, project manager for Project and Construction Services Inc. of Wheeling, with questions about both projects this week.

At issue at the Multi-Sports Complex is the striping of the eight-lane track, which was recently repaired and resurfaced.

“It’s an issue that will be resolved,” Blatt told board members on Monday.

“The striping has to be done soon,” Superintendent Suzan Smith told the board in December. “I want to make sure the track meets all the regulations.”

West Virginia regulations require each lane to be 42 inches wide and the inside lane to be 400 meters long, said Ray Londeree, assistant executive director of the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission.

The last time there was an inspection, it was unclear whether the Oak Glen track would meet those specifications, which are required for regional track meets, Londeree said.

“I know there was some discussion about it and that they were going to take care of it,” he said.

Athletic Director Phil Rujak said he’s confident the striping contractor will get the work done in time for the track season, which starts in March. The first practice is scheduled for Feb. 25.

“We’re going forward with our track schedule as normal,” he said.

Striping of the track should take only a couple of days as long as conditions are dry and temperatures are above freezing, Rujak said.

Pro Track and Tennis Inc., of Omaha, Neb., is the subcontractor responsible for the Oak Glen track and, as such, may contract the striping work out to another contractor, Blatt said.

“My concern,” school board President Jerry Durante said, “is that they have not resolved this when the weather was conducive to striping the track, and now we have a track that can’t be used.”

Durante also is concerned with the safety of the Field of Dreams press box doors, which, on Monday, he likened to “scrap from a battleship.”

Durante and other board members believe the doors are too heavy and should not be used for the upcoming baseball and softball seasons.

“The concern is the weight of them,” he said. “If they were to come down … you’re going to be seriously hurt.”

The doors open at the bottom and latch to the ceiling, he said.

Board members want project architect McKinley & Associates, of Wheeling, to consider a solution.

“If it was a design flaw, then it’s up to the architect,” Durante said.

“That needs to be addressed by McKinley ASAP, or it can’t be used,” board member Patsy Brancazio said. “It’s in their court to repair it or replace it.”

Both Durante and Brancazio expressed impatience, to the point of exasperation, with McKinley and other contractors over the press box and track striping issues.

“We’ve given them enough time. We need to put them on notice that the completion of these contracts will be handled by them – or somebody else,” Brancazio said.

“It needs to be fixed before the season starts,” Durante said. “I will not approve another bill until this is rectified. I’m tired of it.”

Smith said she recently noticed that the press box doors are rusting.

“It’s been defective right to begin with,” she said.

McKinley President Ernie Delatorre declined comment but said he will be discussing the issue with district officials next week. Pro Track and Tennis officials could not be reached for comment.

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