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School Board approves Stadium Project

School Board approves Stadium Project

Board unanimously passes three action items to begin project

 

by Ed Weaver - October 8, 2015

Members of the Wellsboro Area School Board unanimously approved three action items regarding the new Wellsboro Community Athletic Complex that has been under review for over a decade.

Southern Bleacher Company Proposal

Consideration of approval of Southern Bleacher Company proposal for Home Side Grandstand/Press Box and Rooftop Canopy Project in the amount of $595,782. This amount includes alternate amount of $17,800 (for texture painted traffic coating on walking surfaces) and alternate amount of $37,800 (for vertical metal panel closures). In addition the 2% CO-OP purchasing fee of $11,682 is included in said amount.

AstroTurf LLC Proposal

Consideration of approval of AstroTurf LLC Proposal in the amount of $2,047,748 to install 79,690 square feet of AstroTurf GameDay Grass and red 13mm sandwich track Stobitan SW (6,138 SY) of track surface including 6 lane oval and two full D-Zones; to be purchased through the Cooperative Purchasing Network (TCPN) contract via TCPN proposal number R5175-PA-7975. Quote includes all labor, materials, tools and equipment necessary to install in-place the synthetic turf and synthetic track applications referenced in accordance with published product specifications.

Musco Lighting Proposal

Consideration of approval of Musco Lighting proposal in the amount of $194,949 for the purchase and installation of Musco’s Light Structure Green lighting system as presented.

The board, with the help of the district’s financial adviser, put together a funding package that fully funds the project while lowering the district’s annual loan payments by $400,000 for the next 18 years. The package was voted upon and passed 5-4 previously during the board’s meeting on April 14, 2015 to secure a construction loan and use a $1 million state-funded Redevelopment Assistance Capitol Program (RACP) grant.

The new facility will allow the 90 plus events held each fall on that surface to be done in safety. Additionally, other sports teams that don’t traditionally use the field, like baseball and softball, will be able to get outside on the turf in early spring when the natural surfaces are still mud. Plus, the district will be able to host championship level games which currently aren’t allowed due to the facilities not meeting the PIAA minimums.

“The renovation of these facilities reflects our vision for a strong community that will benefit people of all ages for many years,” said Wellsboro Superintendent Chris Morral. “This complex will provide athletic and wellness opportunities for Wellsboro and serve as an essential gathering place for the entire community. Athletic teams, coaches and parents will greatly benefit from having updated facilities. This facility will provide each athlete and participant with safer playing conditions while allowing parents and community members with safe and reliable bleacher seating.”

“In 2005 when the new high school opened, the total budget was a bit over $17 million including total loan payments of $2.3 million per year,” said School Board President Carl Chambers. “Today, the budget is almost $25 million, but we have lowered the total payments to $1.9 million per year that includes all of the financing for this project. Taxes have gone up as cost have gone up, but our annual loan payments have decreased by $400,000 per year including the cost of the loan payments for the renovations to the stadium.”

Chambers also stressed that the stadium is a gathering point for the community and part of the overall school district. Also, just like with any other owned asset, it needs to be upgraded including replacing worn out parts.

“The stadium is just one aspect of the overall school district that the community owns. It is used by over 40% of our students in grades 7-12 for athletics and is used by all students at some point for gym. Additionally, the community has access and a history of using the stadium for personal fitness activities to Relay for Life. The old bleachers and field were installed in the 1960’s and lights were installed in the 1970’s. All three items have far exceeded their useful life which requires their replacement. At some point we need to invest in our facilities as they will wear out. There is never the perfect time to make large investments, but in the current financial strength of the district, as seen by the Moody’s rating of A+, on the district’s finances and the second lowest interest rates since 1792, and finally our existing facilities condition, it is the necessary time.”

Matt Rendos, wellsboro Athletic Director, said, “This is a positive outcome for all Wellsboro student-athletes as they will now have a first-class facility to compete in. For years opposing teams have not wanted to play at our field, now they’ll want to.”

Wellsboro head football coach Matt Hildebrand also expressed his thoughts on the project.

“I am pleased to see that there has been a decision made to move forward with improvements. The athletes deserve a proper stadium to compete that is safe and where their family and friends can comfortably come and support them. This is a project that many generations of student athletes will benefit from due to its year round use.”

Wellsboro boys soccer head coach John Shaffer and girls head coach Mike Hotchkiss echoed Coach Hildebrand’s comments.

“I am excited for our field to finally be up to the same standard as the product the boys put out on the field. They deserve to play on a safe, quality field,” Shaffer said. “This decision will allow the teams to have a great field, a great place to watch a game and will extend the use of the field for the entire year. This will be a major improvement for many years to come,” said Hotchkiss.

Morral concluded by saying, “One thing that never changed was the overall purpose. It is clearly the intent of all stakeholders to provide our students, athletes, parents and community members with facilities that are appropriate and affordable while ensuring that all costs provide long-term sustainability.”

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