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Stadium overhaul pegged at $150K

The only thing that was decided Monday night about the closed grandstands at Memorial Stadium was that the school board needed more time to weigh the options. In addition to the proposals chosen after four public meetings in October, two more choices were presented at the school board meeting.

Corey Johnson and his team of community members well-versed in construction presented their plan for repairing the existing structure, while Oak Harbor High School Vice Principals Dale Leach and Dwight Lundstrom had yet another option, one that put a final stadium facility at the high school. Johnson’s plan had a price tag of just over $150,000, while Leach and Lundstrom estimated theirs at $1.5 million to $2 million.

Johnson’s plan, from the “Memorial Stadium Citizen Committee,” agreed with the findings of the original engineer’s report, that the current structure is unsafe and inadequate, but said it didn’t go far enough. In that report engineer Jack Husband concluded that repair of the structure would exceed the cost of replacement. Johnson estimated the cost of upgrading the bleachers would be $156,121, versus close to $350,000 for a total replacement, based on school district figures.

Gary Sturdy, of Sturdy Engineering, called the solution “simple.” They proposed to add extra bracing to the structural columns, replace the seat planking and increase the size of the footings supporting the bleachers. The plan would also put a chain link fence against the side railings, which currently don’t meeting safety regulations, add a handicapped accessible ramp, and add additional bleacher entrances.

The plan also suggested moving the playing field back from the bleachers, addressing the problem of the field being too close. While this cost was not included in Johnson’s estimate, he put it in the $150,000 range, as it would include regrading the field and adding drainage.

Johnson’s plan outlined a “community approach” to the repair work, with volunteer work parties supervised by a professional construction manager, also working for free, and possibly enlisting work crews from the Navy base.

“This whole thing is about the kids,” Sturdy said. “We’re looking at a solution to get them back on the field by next fall.”

The plan did not address other issues, such as parking or other city code requirements.

The proposal by Leach and Lundstrom would also have sports resume at Memorial Field by fall, but only as a temporary solution. Their long-term plan calls for building a permanent structure at the high school in three phases.

Phase one of the plan would put aluminum bleachers and a press box at Memorial Stadium before moving to Phase two in two years, a full stadium at the high school, with artificial turf, an all-weather track, lights and scoreboard. Phase three would include concrete stands, ticket booth, restrooms, officials dressing room, team meeting rooms and parking. The cost of all phases was estimated at $1.85 million to $2.58 million.

Rick Schulte, Superintendent of Schools, said the next step would be to get more information before making a decision.

Board member Kathy Jones felt they should address the immediate needs first, and that Johnson’s plan made good fiscal sense.

“It’s one of the best proposals for school and community partnership I’ve seen,” she said.

Board member Kathy Chalfant questioned how much time the repairs at Memorial Stadium would buy, and whether the district really wanted to put the money into it and use that field for another five or 10 years.

“If there’s any way to get to the high school, that’s where the money should go,” she said.

Board member Gary Wallin had a reservation based on Oak Harbor’s history of not supporting school bonds.

“The model in this town has been ‘bare bones is good enough,’” he said. Repairing the bleachers might preclude building a better facility at the high school in some peoples’ minds.

As the meeting ran past 9:30 p.m., the board decided to devote the entire next board meeting to discussing the stadium situation and the Market Trend survey recently completed regarding the high school remodel plan. That meeting will be held Nov. 24. They hope to have a decision by the Dec. 8 board meeting.

Both plans presented Monday will be available on the school district Web site: www.ohsd.net

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