KODIAK, Alaska — Kodiak High School track coach Marcus Dunbar has been unable to clear a path for his runners this winter.
The city ordered Dunbar and others not to shovel snow from the expensive new track at Baranof Park because it might puncture the surface and void the warranty.
That's a problem for Dunbar, given that Kodiak is in Alaska.
"We're expecting to have a good season, and the last thing we need is to be shut out of the track because of the weather," Dunbar said.
The track's surface has been compared to the tip of a rubber eraser. It has little granules of rubber laid over a layer of a polyurethane mixture, and was an upgraded version of what the city had planned, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported (http://is.gd/aHLY7V).
When snow blankets the track, Dunbar's team practices in the hallways inside school. That's not an option for official meets. If the track isn't clear by April 26, Kodiak High School won't be able to host its first home meet.
"The city is being real nervous because they have this nice track and they're afraid something is going to happen to it," Dunbar said. "But what good is a track if you're not using it?"
City manager Aimée Kniaziowski said the city is protecting its investment by following the manufacturer's recommendation for snow removal restrictions in accordance with the five-year warranty. The track portion of the multimillion-dollar Baranof Park improvement project cost around $700,000.
"Any kind of sharp object can puncture it," Kniaziowski said. "It could take out chunks. That's what we want to avoid."
Rick Hardin of Beynon Atlas, the Oregon-based company that installed the track surface, and Bob Harding, the architect who designed the Baranof Park project, referred questions to Kniaziowski.
Kniaziowski said the city is researching how other places with similar tracks handle snow removal.
Larry Morris, project manager for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, said his school district has four outdoor tracks installed by Beynon Atlas.
"We don't do it (snow removal) until spring break," Morris said. "Then we just use a snowblower. We just take it off, but still leave some snow on there. If you get too low, you'll start to scrape the track."
Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com