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Paving firm says unused North High track was built to specs

August 08, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN -- The company building the North Hagerstown High School track was given the wrong specifications for the project, according to Craig Paving Inc. President Roger Craig.

Craig made that statement the day after The Herald-Mail reported that Washington County Public Schools was seeking bids to tear up the work done by his company and rebuild the track at Mike Callas Stadium.

Craig said that others have estimated the work could cost as much as $750,000.

He said Thursday that the track paving was completed by his company in 2006, and met high school standards. However, in early 2007, Craig said, he was told to bring the track up to college-level standards -- changing the slope of the track from less than 2 percent to a maximum of 1 percent.

"I did (the track) according to the specs that were written," Craig said. "(Washington County Public Schools) is inferring stuff that wasn't in the specs. It's utter insanity."

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The track has never been used, and until recently officials would say only that the surface did not meet "construction standards."

Deputy Superintendent of Washington County Public Schools Boyd Michael said that while the slope of the track was changed from the original request, Craig Paving was aware of that change before bidding on the project.

"They were bidding on an alternate," Michael said. "They were aware of the alternate."

The alternate specifications were included in a document from March 17, 2006 -- nine days after the date on original bid documents. However, Craig said he did not receive the signed alternate plan from the school system until July 2007.

A document obtained by The Herald-Mail shows a change order for the alternate plan that was signed by a school system official on July 16, 2007.

Michael would not comment on Craig's allegation that the company was informed of the alternate plan after the track paving was completed.

NCAA standards

Local runner Mike Spinnler and other Tri-State track enthusiasts lobbied for an alternate track plan that would allow for competition beyond the high school level. They raised money for that plan.

Craig said Thursday that the group's fundraising caused the original track plan to be changed. He said he offered to return the track group's money.

However, Craig said that information about the fundraising and its purpose was never given to his company and was not included in the bid documents.

Michael said Washington County Public Schools would welcome NCAA approval of the North Hagerstown High School track.

"It is our understanding with (NCAA) approval, meets other than high school functions could be held at the track," Michael said. "Such events could be a means of support not only for the track, but the local economy for out-of-county folks visiting for the events."

Spinnler said Thursday that he was "not at liberty to comment" on Craig's allegations.

Craig said his company has built about 20 high school tracks in the Tri-State area, and all of them are built with a maximum 2 percent slope -- the high school standard.

Craig said the surface used on an NCAA-approved track would cost about twice as much as other high school tracks and last half as long. He also said there is more maintenance involved in that type of track.

The money

While Craig said he was asked to change the track to the alternate plan, current bid documents obtained by The Herald-Mail ask companies to provide estimates for both standards.

Craig said he donated materials and labor to the track project, and Washington County Public Schools officials expected him to tear out his original work and rebuild the track for free.

When asked about private donations and taxpayer funds that went toward the track, Michael directed those questions to the Mike Callas Stadium committee.

The cost of the stadium, including the track, was about $4 million. Almost $1.6 million of the money for the stadium and track is from government sources, The Herald-Mail has reported.

Craig's brother, Richard Craig, said the company gave $234,000 to the track project in materials and labor, and was paid $90,000 by Washington County Public Schools.

Richard Craig is in charge of estimating for the company.

That included $62,000 for a sidewalk that the company expected to be paid for, but never was. It also included about $30,000 for a futile repair effort that was made after the company was told that officials wanted an NCAA standard track, Roger Craig said.

That fact was not disclosed before the track was built, Craig said.

After the track was built, Craig said, he was informed that the school system wanted a different design, so Craig Paving tried to fix the track. Craig said he actually made the track worse by attempting to fix it, and it is now unusable.

He said that if the school system wanted the track built to the specifications for a high school track, Craig Paving could complete the paving in one day.

The remainder of Craig Paving's investment in the track was through donated labor and materials. Both brothers are North High graduates, as are other members of their family.

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