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Stadium wrecking ball halted for now

While the community stadium team continues to seek a permanent solution to the Memorial Stadium dilemma, the Oak Harbor School board has backed off from swinging the wrecking ball any time soon, deciding instead to permanently close but not yet condemn the structure.

The move came at Monday’s regular school board meeting, and was prompted by testimony from Corey Johnson, project manager for Island Construction.

Johnson told the board he had inspected the bleachers with two community members who had practical construction experience, and an independent structural engineer. They think the stadium can be repaired.

“I believe a vote tonight to demolish the bleachers is premature and would be a fiscal disservice to the community,” Johnson told the board. “I agree it’s unsafe, but I don’t agree it should be torn down.”

Johnson requested that the school board give him 10 days to work with Sturdy Engineering of Anacortes, at no cost to the district, to determine the viability of repairing the existing bleachers.

The school board agreed, citing a need to get as much community input as possible before making their decision.

Schools Superintendent Rick Schulte has said he didn’t think the bleachers could be saved, but was open to consider all options.

I’m very confident we will have to replace those bleachers,” he said. “We will continue looking toward a long-term solution.”

Johnson said if his independent engineering survey shows it is not economically feasible to repair the bleachers and bring them up to code, he would support their removal, and moving on.

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