Fairhope approves $2.48 million track improvements

Government Editor
Posted 2/22/23

FAIRHOPE — A new eight-lane track at Founders Park will allow schools to hold meets at the site, but the cost of almost $2.5 million is more than officials expected.The Fairhope City Council …

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Fairhope approves $2.48 million track improvements


FAIRHOPE — A new eight-lane track at Founders Park will allow schools to hold meets at the site, but the cost of almost $2.5 million is more than officials expected.

The Fairhope City Council voted Monday to award the contract for the project to McElhenney Construction for $2.48 million. The project includes a new track and parking lot at Founders Park.

The final bid exceeded the budgeted amount by about $1.28 million.

Council President Jay Robinson said that while the bids were for more than first expected, all three bids were for similar amounts.

"My biggest concern, obviously the money was an initial factor, but I've come to grips with that," Robinson said. "Taking into consideration that we got three bids that were all very close together, looking at some of the projects in other areas and so my focus is more and my question is more on the actual layout of this and making sure that it is set up in a way that allows us to get the best use out of the track as it's set up."

City officials said additional work was added to the project after the first estimates were made. The project will add another 47 parking spaces, including two handicapped spots, at the park.

Richard Johnson, public works director, said some features of the project also had to be changed after the designs were drawn up.

"When we met with the track coaches, they had some legitimate concerns because of the location of the shot put," Johnson told council members. "Theoretically, a bad shot put could end up on the track. As far as being able to move that back in that end zone and being able to relocate another element, that was a very easy fix and that seemed to satisfy them and that gave a lot larger area for an errant shot put, especially if they were having activities on the track as well as shot put at the same time."

Councilman Jimmy Conyers said the city needs better track facilities.

"I think the track and field in general, I think it's a popular sport down here and I think it's probably the most underserved in the community right now," Conyers said. "I know all sports are growing. It seems like and need facilities, but right now, we 've got a five-lane asphalt track that's not, you really can't even hardly practice on that. You definitely can't hold a meet on that. I know the community would support it and would like to see that."

The Baldwin County Board of Education will provide $250,000 for the work and the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation will contribute $400,000, according to city reports.

Councilman Jack Burrell said the city will need to take precautions to protect the new $2.48-million investment.

"You build a track like this and if we're not going to enforce rules on people that aren't supposed to use this or drive that, I don't even want to build it because they will tear it up," Burrell said. "If you go down there and drive those Gators and everything else that we drive on that asphalt track around that football field, this track will last about two months."

"The police have to be ready to enforce it and if you're trespassing on that track you should go to jail," Burrell added.