THE recently upgraded Llanberris Reserve running track is already falling apart, with members of Ballarat’s running fraternity claiming the City of Ballarat opted for the cheapest contractor despite warnings not to.
The track, which reopened in April 2013 after a more than $400,000 overhaul, is showing signs of dangerous decay with holes and blisters appearing in several sections.
Concerned parents told The Courier the track was unsafe, following reports that a young primary school pupil tripped on a hole and hit her head during an interschool meet last week.
The Ballarat Regional Athletic Centre (BRAC), the group which provided $250,000 in funding towards the upgrade, said on Thursday that the council had hired “substandard and sloppy” contractors to begin with.
“We were keen for the council to accept a tender from a contractor who we believed would have been ideal, but the council knocked that on the head and went with the cheapest option,” said BRAC secretary Sarah Davis.
“And now, after notifying the council in January about the state of the track, no one there seems to want to rectify the situation ... it’s a disgrace.”
The upgrade itself was delayed significantly in 2013 after material for the track took longer than planned to arrive from overseas.
The City of Ballarat said there had been four tenders for the job in 2012 with all tenders proposing a “similar program of works and finish quality”.
“Therefore, price was an appropriate determinant for awarding the contract,” major projects delivery and communications executive Jeff Pulford said.
Responding to claims that the upgrade was substandard, Mr Pulford said it had involved the track’s surface only, not the “subgrade” underneath.
“The current issue has been caused by a failure of the subgrade,” he said.
Concerned parent Daniel Martin, whose two daughters use the track regularly, said the upgrade was an “embarrassment”.
“All this money gets spent and they bill it as a world class track, but it’s just not,” he said.
“I wouldn’t want my children running on it without spikes ...
you get any top runner here and they’d refuse altogether.
“And I don’t think this can be repaired, it looks like it will have to be redone.”
The City of Ballarat said it would continue to work with BRAC and hoped to have the track repaired in time for the start of the athletics season.