There are many changes to school sports this fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One big change is 11-player tackle football being replaced by 7-on-7 touch. Hermon High School hosted Bangor High School on Thursday night at Pottle Field where the bleachers were nearly empty. Hermon permits two spectators for each senior player. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Hermon will put off some parts of a more than $2 million project to build an eight-lane rubber track and improve athletic fields at the town’s high school after bids for the work came in nearly 30 percent over the $2.4 million voters approved for the work last year.

The town may devote $400,000 of its federal COVID-19 relief funds to the project to make up part of the $687,000 difference, but that would still leave it $287,000 short.

As a result, Hermon will delay installing new bleachers and a storage shed and put off concession stand renovations until more money is available, said Steve Thomas, chair of the town’s track committee and the Hermon Town Council.

The high quote for construction work in Hermon is part of a nationwide trend of higher price tags on construction projects.

Three major hospital construction projects — in Greenville, Blue Hill and Bangor — will cost 40 percent more than initially thought as Northern Light Health encounters steep increases to the cost of labor and building materials. In Old Town, the Maine Department of Transportation indefinitely put off the replacement of a 70-year-old bridge over the Stillwater River after bids came in at nearly double the amount the department had budgeted.

While Hermon plans to put off some aspects of its project, the construction of the new track and improvements to Pottle Field, where Hermon High athletes play soccer and football, are still planned.

The new track will be built on unused land next to the tennis courts at Hermon High School.

Residents were expected to weigh in Thursday at their annual town meeting on whether to spend the $400,000 in federal funds to pay for renovations at Pottle Field, where the town plans to install a drainage system under the athletic field, which sits on ledge that is slated to be removed.

Instead of voting Thursday on using that money, residents at the town meeting sent the question back to the town council for review because the question had been placed on the town meeting warrant without being considered by the full council.

If the council approves spending the funds, a special town meeting will be called later this year so voters can weigh in.

Because of the ledge, the field is dry during dry weather spells and a “swamp” during rainy seasons, Thomas said.

The federal funds may be spent on sewer, water and broadband projects, according to Town Manager Howard Kroll, which he said allows the money to be spent to upgrade Pottle Field.