Vandals attack newly laid athletics track

IMPRESSIVE: An artist's impression of what Nga Puna Wai will look like when the whole first stage is completed next year.

A vandalism attack at the Ngā Puna Wai Sports Hub will delay the planned opening of the city’s new athletics track.

Contractors were on course to have the track ready for athletes to use over the winter, but last month part of the newly laid track was damaged by vandals.

The vandals broke into the site and one of the contractor’s utility machines and drove it around a newly coated section of track, damaging the surface. The incident has been reported to police.

“It is very disappointing. If the vandalism hadn’t occurred, the track would have been completed by now and certified,’’ said city council project director Scott Bennett.

“Our contractors have been working hard to fix the damage to the track, but they have been hampered by the recent wet weather. In order to repair the top layer of the track they needed the track surface to be dry and temperatures greater than 10 degrees.

“They have had to wait some time to get the right conditions to do the track repairs and unfortunately that has had a flow-on effect for the planned line marking work.

“Five days of solid line marking work is required to get the track marked up to international standards, but unfortunately that work is also weather dependent. It requires the track surface to be completely dry and temperatures above 10 degrees.

“With winter here and temperatures dropping the chances of us getting five days where it is both dry and warm enough to do the line marking are slim. It is possible that we may not be able to finish the track work until the spring, when the temperatures warm up,’’ Mr Bennett said.

“It is gutting to have this setback because we were very excited about the getting the track certified and handed over to Athletics Canterbury so their athletes could train on it over the winter months.

“Our contractors have gone above and beyond to get the track ready, working over Easter, Anzac Day and on Sundays – basically any day it has been warm and dry enough – so for them it has been hugely disappointing.

“We’ve kept Athletics Canterbury closely informed of progress on the track and while they’re equally disappointed by this turn of events, their key focus is having the track ready for their summer season,’’ he said.

Any additional costs incurred as a result of the vandalism attack will be covered by the construction insurance.

Andrew Stark, from Athletics Canterbury, said the vandalism of the track surface, so close to completion, is extremely disappointing and frustrating, not only for the athletics community, but also for those involved in the build.

“I know how hard the Polytan crew have worked since February to get the job done, often up to seven days a week,” Mr Stark said.

“We had hoped the track would be certified by about now and available for winter training, but due to the repair work and subsequent delay this has caused,  I have been advised by Council the final parts of the track surface and the lane markings are  now unlikely to be completed until closer to when the season starts in October.

“We will continue to work with the Council to provide regular updates on a potential timeline for completion,” Mr Stark said.