OLDSMAR ― The city’s quest to reopen its world-renowned BMX track has hit a minor snag.
Since April, the track has been closed because of structural problems with its walls, which first arose after a $2.1 million renovation of the track in 2015. In August, a city-commissioned report found that the track was structurally unsound and in need of major improvements before it’s reopened. In response, the Oldsmar City Council voted in October to give an engineering firm almost $90,000 to draw up design guidelines for new retaining walls that will support the elevated, two-tier track.
But last week, a city-hired attorney wrote in a letter that the work approved by the council in October has been put on hold while the city explores legal options.
Before Oldsmar can take any potential legal action against the contractors it thinks could be responsible for the track’s structural defects, state law requires the city to give notice to the contractors of the potential building issues. The contractors have 45 days to inspect the track, then take responsibility for the problems ― or not. If the contractors’ answers aren’t to the city’s liking, Oldsmar can start litigation.
“Please be assured that the city is doing everything within its power to reopen the BMX facility,” the attorney, George Spofford of GrayRobinson wrote in the letter dated Dec. 4.
Spofford wrote in a subsequent email that the city has sent a notice to Tampa Bay Construction & Engineering, Inc., the city’s lead contractor for much of the 2015 renovations. The city expects to hear back from the firm by Christmas. Ahmad Erchid, president of Tampa Bay Construction, did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
Other contractors involved in the track’s construction are talking with the city about inspecting the track as well, although “to date nothing has been scheduled,” Spofford said.
In August, a city-commissioned report found that many of the structural problems with the BMX track could be attributed to failures by Tampa Bay Construction & Engineering.
“It is our professional opinion that the majority of the (wall) distress is attributable to the contractor’s improper and poor construction practices and lack of contractor quality control,” the report read.
In September, Erchid said any potential problems with the track could be traced back to faulty city plans.
“If they had issues, they should be reviewing their design drawings,” Erchid said then.
The city has not set a date for the track’s reopening.