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School officials want input on sports facilities upgrade

Plan in the works calls for moving football stadium, building track

Nov. 23, 2010

Greenfield — The Whitnall School Board's scheduled vote on a $7 million plan to upgrade athletic facilities is still two months away, but district officials say they are trying to get the public involved now.

Superintendent Lowell Holtz said soliciting community input is a priority. He will meet with various people in the school district throughout December, he said, and School Board members have also discussed holding community forums and reaching out to parent groups.

No meetings have been formally set but could be announced soon.

What the plans include

Holtz clarified that relocating the baseball field will not be part of the project, contrary to the original report. The baseball complex underwent extensive renovations a few years ago and will remain as is, Holtz said.

The softball field, however, would be relocated and outfitted with new scoreboards, dugouts and bleachers.

Under the athletic facility plan, unveiled to the School Board earlier this month, the football stadium would be moved slightly west, with artificial turf installed, along with new bleachers, a press box, field lighting, a scoreboard, a sound system and security fencing.

A new eight-lane track would also be installed. Whitnall has not hosted a track meet since 2000 because of the track's poor condition.

The report also recommends relocating the softball field and renovating the tennis courts and student parking lots.

Funding still up in air

If approved, the project would be implemented over two summers and be mostly completed by August 2012. The football field would be finished in December of that year.

Many people in the community have wanted an upgrade to athletic facilities, which are aging and have been plagued by constant water problems.

The project's total cost is estimated between $7 million and $8 million, and the district is still investigating how it would be funded.

All financing options are on the table, including using the district's reserve fund, selling private naming rights, collecting private donations and borrowing.

"Our goal is to have as minimal of an impact on the taxpayers as possible," Holtz said.

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