A new (red) face for Smith Track

LACONIA — The Smith Track at Opechee Park is slated to be opened by the middle of November, said the director of the Parks and Recreation Department yesterday.

Kevin Dunleavy said the resurfacing is finished and the contractor needs three or four days of good weather in order finish striping it.

When asked why the track is now brick red instead of black, Dunleavy said that is the standard color. "Anything different would have required an upgrade," he said.

He added that Laconia's colors are red and white, which is a plus in his mind, but added the school colors have little or nothing to do with the color of the running surface.

Dunleavy also said the color black absorbs more heat and the rubberized surface is much hotter in the summer. He said most good-quality tracks — including those at Newfound Regional High School in Bristol and Inter-Lakes Regional High School in Meredith.

The replacement of the track was made necessary because the surface of the old track began bubbling and cracking in 2011. The city hired a company to fix it, but the next year the problems resurfaced and the city was forced to close the track again.

As of October, he said the city was still in negotiations with the company that did the 2011 resurfacing because its representatives have said the 2012 problems "were not of (their) making."

He said the city decided this time that the entire former rubberized surface must be removed. Dunleavy said the entire cost for the replacement was $250,000 and is being paid for with a borrowing approved by the City Council. The city had estimated the cost to be $300,000 and the bond was included in the 2013-2014 budget.

Dunleavy said the city also resurfaced all of the runways for the jumps and, aside from the fence, the track is like new.

"What's nice is that it's something the whole city can use," said Dunleavy, noting that some tracks that belong exclusively to school districts are closed when the schools aren't using them.

He also said that being at Opechee Park, which is the city's largest park, is good because it is in such a "nice setting."

He said once it opens the track will remain open until "snow flies."