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Democrat Photo by Frank Rizzo

Workers repair the Sullivan West track

Sinkhole Had Temporarily
Sunk SW Track Facility

By Frank Rizzo
JEFFERSONVILLE — August 15, 2000 – Ralph Tremper of Youngsville, a retired civil engineer with the state Department of Transportation, has a more than passing interest in the Community Athletic Complex at the Jeff-Youngsville campus of the Sullivan West Central School.
After all, its was Tremper and then-Jeff-Youngsville Superintendent Al Larson who were instrumental in drawing the vision of the future athletic fields in the late ’80s.
In a speech he gave last fall at the Athletic Fields dedication, Larson had the following words of praise for Tremper: “Trained, experienced, and licensed as a State Engineer, Mr. Tremper donated his knowledge, drawings, and untold hours of fieldwork that enabled the other team members to do the rest of the work. Mr. Tremper designed the drawings for the new parking lots, the removal of Behnken Hill, the new road, the softball and football fields, the track, future baseball field, and soccer field with its own adjoining parking lot.”
So Tremper is understandably upset over what happened at the eight-lane track, in many ways the centerpiece of the new complex and the only eight-lane facility in the county.
(As such, it can theoretically host the state track championship meet and this spring was in fact slated to be the site of the last Western Sullivan League track and field championship event.)
However, before the Sullivan West track team had a chance to host even one meet, a sinkhole formed, and effectively rendered the second through fourth lanes unusable.
The team wound up doing little more than limited practices on the all-weather rubberized surface oval.
Dave Franskevicz, the athletic director at the Jeff-Youngsville campus, would only say that “it has been frustrating and disappointing.”
Last week, Ballard Construction of Syracuse, the subcontractor, spend two days repairing a large, deep rectangular area, preparing the surface for repaving.
“We finally came to terms with the contractor,” Sullivan West Superintendent Mike Johndrow said, referring to Southwest Industries of Texas.
Southwest — which owns the patent to “astroturf” — is responsible for the rubberized surfacing.
Everything up to that level was prepared by Ballard Construction.
By the end of this week, or the beginning of next week, Johndrow should have on his desk a report by engineering consultants. They were hired to determine why the soil settled beneath the track, causing it to develop the sinkhole.
The report will lay the blame, if any, and will determine who will be liable for the cost of repairs.
Johndrow declined to name a cost figure.
“The track will be fixed, and all the construction will be completed,” Johndrow emphasized. “And [construction] won’t tie up the soccer and football field.
“It’s been a major frustration, [losing] a whole track season. I feel bad because so many [volunteers] were involved in building the [athletic complex],” Johndrow commented.
On Friday: Ballard responds.

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