The plans for a new stadium to replace the aged one at Elma High School’s Davis Field progressed this week with the district deciding to put a bond before voters to finance its construction.
The School Board approved both the $8.4 million bond measure and a 2-year, $3.17 million maintenance and operations levy to be placed on the February ballot at its meeting on Wednesday.
Property owners in the district would be asked to pay an estimated combined tax rate of $4.64 per $1,000 of assessed value for the next two years — $3.69 per $1,000 for both years of the levy’s collection (2015 and 2016) and an estimated 95 cents per $1,000 for the bond. The bond funds will be collected over 20 years.
The grandstand at Davis Field are not scheduled to be demolished until the end of the boy’s soccer season. Feasibility reports completed by Vector Engineering since 2008 saw progressed deterioration of the stands, with the most recent 2013 evaluation showing serious issues. The stands, thought to be up to 80 years old, have required costly repairs for more than a decade.
Ryan Moore, Vector’s engineer who completed the studies commissioned by the board, estimated that the repairs would cost an $100,000 to $150,000 just to keep them safe for the upcoming year. He recommended they be demolished at a meeting on the issue in September.
While the official plan for the new stadium is still being finalized, Elma school board member Larry Bridenback said the current plan is to construct the new field on the parcel of land the district owns near Elma Elementary School.
“It’s the only place where we can put artificial turf, the other sites flood,” said Bridenback, of the land which sits on higher ground. He added that while the plans for what type of stadium are likewise still being discussed, the most likely plan is to include aluminum seats and concrete risers.
He said they are looking to create a grandstand with 1,500 seats due to that number being the limit for hosting state playoff games.
He said additional parking will be part of what they are looking at during the planning process, but it does not seem to be a huge concern.
“We have to have one parking space for every four seats, so we’re pretty close out there,” he said.
Bridenback said the board’s long-range plans for the stadium include a baseball and fast pitch field connected within the stadium site. Currently, the area at the elementary school known as Volunteer Field has grass fields used for soccer practice.
The plans for the funds from the district’s replacement maintenance and operations levy include more security cameras on buses, wages not covered by the state, some extracurricular activities. The district also hopes to use some as savings so it can eventually replace the high school gym floor at a cost of around $25,000.
“We haven’t redone it for like 10 years and it’s really yellowing,” said Bridenback, adding they will likely place money into a savings fund over the next few years and into their next levy to complete raising enough money for that project.