Work to soon begin on GC Foster track
With all the approvals now secured, work on a new all-weather athletics track at the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sports is set to get underway before the end of this month pending the signing of a contract between the Sports Development Foundation (SDF) and German contractors Berleburger Schaumstoffwerk (BSW).
The new surface, which is expected to be built to International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Level Two certification requirements, was initially scheduled to be completed in time for the start of the 2015 track and field season, which properly gets under way this weekend, but had to be pushed back after the processes took longer than anticipated.
However, SDF Chairman Denzil Wilks is confident the facility will be up and running by the end of April 2015.
This comes as a major boost to the institution, which has long needed a new athletics surface after being forced to discontinue use of the old track, because of its poor conditions.
"It's been a long haul in terms of bringing things to this stage, but here we are now, the award has been made. In other words, all the approvals have been granted from the National Contracts Commission and went to Cabinet," Wilks told The Gleaner. "We will do the formal signing of the contract early this month, and as soon as that is done then it is our anticipation that work will start very soon thereafter, by the second half of January."
The administrator noted that the signing of the contract between the SDF and BSW was delayed because of the holidays and gave an estimate of the project's completion.
"It (track) definitely won't be ready for this track and field season, particularly leading up to Champs, it won't be ready for that," said Wilks. "In terms of the estimated
work time, we anticipate - based on our projected start period - that we will be ready. Work will be completed about the end of April, so we should catch the back end of the current season."
Wilks noted that the budget has not been affected and remains at §1.1 million (J$150 million) and the work will include a full reconstruction of the base and sub-base structures, drainage and surface conditioning, in addition to the laying of the actual all-weather track.
Ventley Brown, director of sports at G.C. Foster College, lamented the delays, but is anticipating the positive impact of the new track.
"I can't tell you how pleased I am. It has really affected the track and field calendar - about three meets were cancelled last year, even our own G.C. Foster Classic, and that meet generates income for our sports programmes," Brown said.
"Not having a track also affected our academic programme, because we teach track and field at all levels, and so in terms of revenue from other events such as cancelled sport days and training camps, it affected us greatly.
"Track and field is a subject offered at the college, and our lecturers bring the students through all the different aspects of the sport, so they have to use the track as well, outside of competitions," said Brown.
"It has affected us, but we welcome the new track, and this will certainly move the college forward," he added.