At Joel Barlow High School: Board moves to second phase of stadium study

Possible stadium and field improvements at Joel Barlow High School were presented by Eric Royce of Gale Associates to the Region 9 Board of Education on Tuesday, Dec. 18. With phase one of the stadium improvement study now complete, the board approved Mr. Royce going forward with phase two.

Gale Associates was chosen in October to do a phase one study of field and stadium improvements including bleachers, lighting, parking and access improvements, and resurfacing of the football field. Phase two will include surveying the land, schematic design, acquiring permits — all steps need to get to construction, said Mr. Royce.

The board agreed it needs a final cost before going out to bid, not just an estimate.

Mr. Royce had provided the board’s Fields and Facilities Committee with preliminary costs for a possible range of improvements, said Chris Hocker of Redding, committee chair and board member.

Mr. Royce said he looked at the conditions of the bleachers, track, field, and drainage. He tested the soil to see if there was high groundwater or ledge rock under the field.

“We found good results, but some areas had buried topsoil,” he said, which can cause a problem.

The bleachers are not up to code and the lighting is old, said Mr. Royce. The gravel parking lot is also a problem.

“It [the parking lot] needs to be manned so people can park correctly because there are no stripes or lanes painted,” he said.

If the field is resurfaced with natural grass, the field can be used by the football and field hockey teams. If the board chooses to go with artificial turf, the field would be a multipurpose field housing most of the sports at Barlow, as well as physical education classes.

The basic plan, Mr. Royce said, is to replace the bleachers on the home and away side, rework the sidewalk, and replace the inner and outer fences.

If the board chooses to go with artificial turf in the future, Mr. Royce recommended paving the “D” areas, the areas between the field and the track, which would allow more field events to take place closer to the track. Now they have some field events at the practice field, which is away from the track.

The lights would be replaced with high-efficiency lamps that use half the power and cause less spillage of light, he said.

In his plan, Mr. Royce introduced building a general venue housing concessions and rest rooms. If rest rooms aren’t built, portable bathrooms would have to be used, he said.

The parking lot would also be paved and allow 107 spaces, including spaces for the handicapped and enough room for a bus drop-off.

Mr. Royce created packages of improvements the board can choose. One includes new bleachers, lights, inner fence, grass field, parking improvements, and a general venue, said Mr. Hocker.

“The bottom line for the Fields and Facilities Committee was to go forward with new bleachers, lights, fencing the infield, and synthetic turf for $2.4 million,” said Mr. Hocker.

The school board’s Financial Advisory Committee recommended $2.8 million in order to include the parking lot updates and outer fence, said Mr. Hocker, “to improve the stadium as a whole,” he said.

If the board chooses to not do synthetic turf and go with a full replacement and renovation of the grass field, it would cost $640,000 less, or $2,160,000.

The board had originally set aside $50,000 for a consulting fee, and $6,000 has been used for Gale Associates to conduct phase one.

Although the board approved Gale Associates going forward with phase two, Gale Associates has not yet provided a detailed summary of cost estimates, said Mr. Hocker.

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