New seating for Dukes football games should still be in place in time for next fall, but questions loom over how the district will pay for it.
At a special work session Feb. 9, the Wellington board of education indicated it’s still considering two proposals for construction of new bleachers: one for an “I-beam” model costing $325,000 with a 70-year lifespan, and another for “angle frame” style that costs $255,000 and lasts 50-years.
Each would seat 1,000 fans. But the angle frame design, due to its support structure, would completely close off space beneath the bleachers.
The district has started looking into options for cooperative purchasing and the possibility that bleachers might not be the only thing in need of repair or replacement at the football stadium.
“We have to decide which direction we’re going to go,” said board member Daniel Rosecrans. “There’s the question of expansion of the football field to possibly use for soccer. Then there’s the track. People have told me that it’s still used for practices. If it’s not good enough to use for a meet, why do we want our kids out there running on it for practice? It’s either safe and usable or it’s not.”
Rosecrans said widening the field would also mean removing light poles, which he considers “perilously close” to the football field.
His proposed plan was installing new bleachers, widening the field while removing the track and lights, then installing both the old lights and a new track at a potential new structure behind Wellington High School.
Superintendent Ed Weber did not rule out the possibility of asking the public for help with funding, especially if the project grows beyond the bleachers.
“Certainly if the dollar requirements are there, that request could be made,” he said. “We need to do a site study in regard to making sure our facilities are safe for students and community members. Once those costs are asserted, we’ll be able to decide if it can be paid from our general revenues or if there’s more dollars needed than what we have. In that event, we’d need to market and present that need to the community.”
Rosecrans said a vendor has been contacted regarding the installation of new lights at the football stadium.
“I guess what it boils down to is keeping everything on track to be underway around June,” he said. “We have some events coming up around then like youth groups coming in to use the field. We’ve got a little bit of time but what we need to be doing is getting our specs put together. The first step is deciding what kind of grandstand we’re going for.”
Weber said chances are still “fairly high” that new seating will be ready for next school year.
“If the new bleachers can be shifted two feet to the left or right, I think we’re ready to do it,” he said. “If they’re set in stone and can’t move at all, and the field study tells us we’ve got to shift the field, then we just did all that and we’d have to tear it up. I’m not going to let us go that route. We’re going to do these things, but we should be smart and do our homework first.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.