Stadium focus shifts to high school

The plan to construct a complete athletic complex at Oak Harbor High School took a giant baby step forward Monday, as the school board decided to put on hold any plans to build an interim facility at Memorial Stadium.

Instead, the district will rent temporary 1,000 seat bleachers at Memorial Stadium for the fall season while moving ahead with plans for developing the high school site.

Previous community meetings showed a preference for creating a temporary facility at Memorial Field, for up to $500,000, while working on the high school plan.

Board member Kathy Chalfant said at a board workshop Jan. 5 that she didn’t want to put any more money into Memorial Field, and preferred to concentrate instead on the high school facility.

She almost got her wish, as the cost of renting bleachers and installing a temporary public address system, scoreboard and press box is estimated at $25,000.

The board left themselves a little wiggle room, as they put a one year moratorium on any further changes at Memorial Field, rather than nixing them entirely.

Rick Schulte, schools superintendent, said the board’s decision was influenced by the amount of time it might take to have a facility up and running at the high school, as well as future use for Memorial Field.

City regulations require that temporary bleachers can only be used for up to 90 days without complying with code. The temporary bleachers would be taken down after the fall football season.

The 500-seat bleachers on loan from the Navy would stay in place, to be used for spring soccer. Schulte said he didn’t know how their use would fit with city code compliance.

The school board will now move to hire architectural and engineering design consultants, who will work on the high school plan as well as plans for Memorial Field and the North Whidbey Middle School track.

The board did not discuss any new funding options, as Schulte said they will have a better idea of costs and options after the consultants look over the project. They could be hired by the first of March, he said.

The Noon Rotary Club of Oak Harbor has pledged to help raise funds for the high school sports complex, and they expected to meet Tuesday night to plan their strategy.

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