Resurfacing of Smith Track to be accomplished soon

LACONIA – After being below par for nearly a year, Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Dunleavy said Smith Track at Opechee Park is scheduled to get its new surface sometime in the next two weeks.

Dunleavy estimated the cost of resurfacing the running track at $33,000. He said the company hired for the resurfacing is Cape and Islands Track and Tennis of the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts.

For the past 15 years the top layer of the track has been rubber granules raked to an even plane and then sprayed with a latex binder. Meant to be porous so water would seep down during the rain or snow melt and evaporate later, Dunleavy said the refurbishing jobs done in 2001, 2005, and 2011 made the top layer thicker and less able to transmit water and moisture. He also said the constant use packs the top surface which also contributes to it being less porous.

With moisture trapped between the layers, as the sun heats the track, water turns to vapor but with no way to dissipate the vapor, the surface of the track began to bubble and eventually buckle in spots.

Dunleavy said the city is still in financial negotiations with the company that did a resurfacing in August of 2011 and some repair work in 2012. He said the company owner keeps telling him the bubbling and buckling "is not of his making."

When the track bubbled again in June of 2012 the city closed it again. Dunleavy said last week that tracks with similar top layers experienced similar problems so the city decided that the entire rubberized surface would have to be removed.

Money for the resurfacing was included in this fiscal year's capital improvement budget.

Dunleavy said that the new surface, which is about medium grade, will be installed and then lined within the next two weeks. He described medium grade as better than the first track but not the grade that colleges and professional stadiums use.

He said the estimated life of the new surface is about eight years when the track itself is 22 years old. Dunleavy said a complete new track will likely be needed in 2020.