The clock is ticking on construction of 1,400 new Dukes football bleacher seats following the project’s June 28 final approval by the Wellington planning commission.
Less than two months remain before the home opener Friday, Aug. 25 at the Dickson Street stadium. School officials say construction will be completed in time for the Dukes to take on the Normandy Invaders of Parma.
“Everything is on track and scheduled to be completed well before the first game,” said district treasurer Tina Gabler. “There are no hiccups or delays with the bleachers.”
When the project was given conceptual approval April 28, the planning commission asked that site plans be modified to include additional paved parking spots, which would raise the number at the stadium from 93 to 164.
Gabler asked the commission if the expansion could be delayed until after the bleachers and other components of a proposed stadium revamp are completed, including a new running track, lights, and visitors locker room. The commission agreed, as long as the Wellington Schools could provide assurance the parking would be addressed when the time comes.
“I’m OK with waiting on the parking,” said mayor Hans Schneider. “We kind of sprung this on them.”
“Traditionally, we don’t allow this on a project,” said commission chairman Phil Kunz. “That’s because at the end of five years, no one can ever seem to remember what they said before the project started, or they say they’re unable to come through on it at that point. I have no problem allowing a bit of leeway here, though, provided it is well known by everyone that the parking will be done.”
The school board has also considered moving forward this fall with the next phase in the stadium project — LED field lights expected to cost between $150,000 and $250,000.
However, Gabler said state budget cuts going into effect this month will cost the district about $210,000 and potentially complicate the prospect of new lights this year.
“The board hasn’t officially decided if we’re going to move forward with the lights this year,” she said. “The state cuts are a factor that must be considered. They’ve been looking at the costs of lights and just considering all options available. Obviously, the money we’re losing from the state has to be a component in their decision.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.