The second public meeting about rebuilding the grandstands at Montesano High School’s Jack Rottle Field was noteworthy for what it lacked — significant opposition to the rough outline of a plan that just a few months ago generated hours worth of discussion.
“I’m pleased. I think they’ve done a nice job,” said Betty Tagman, a Bulldog grad with grandchildren at the school.
In September, a fire destroyed the 1940’s-era grandstands and some of the synthetic track surrounding the football field. The Bulldog football team was driven out of its home stadium, but came back from the tragedy to win the state title.
Now parents, neighbors and staffers are looking for a place to hang the championship banner.
The design presented to about 35 people at Wednesday’s public meeting in the high school’s commons was a more modern version of the grandstands, but kept many wood elements that people said were important for the intrinsic warmth and character they offer.
Chris Lilley and Kris Stamon from McGranahan Architects of Tacoma presented their refined plan for the structure, based on feedback from the first public meeting in November and work from a small committee made up of volunteers from that audience.
Superintendent Dan Winter noted the design hasn’t been approved by the school district yet and nothing is final. If all goes well, the school board will review the final plan at its Feb. 21 meeting, and bidding could start as soon as March. That would have the project well on its way to completion by the opening of the 2013 football season.
The committee and the school district decided to just replace the grandstands, rather than take the opportunity to implement other improvements, such as a synthetic turf field or a weight room as part of the grandstands. Those items were discussed at the last public meeting. The support just wasn’t there, Winter said.
“The turf field is still a project we’re hoping to complete but we’re hoping to do that through private fundraising and donations,” he explained, adding the district is working on a grant due in March.
The replacement project will be covered by insurance, but the dollar figure hasn’t been released yet. The only thing the district may pay for is an additional bathroom sink. “We’re not making it any bigger, we’re not trying to squeeze any extras out of them, we’re getting back what we had with some, hopefully, modern materials,” Winter said Wednesday. “I know it’s frustrating, but we’re getting a lot closer than we were a month ago.”
In the tentative plan, wood benches will sit on concrete risers, which provide a water-tight roof for the improved storage space under the stands.
“So you’ll still be sitting on wood but the floor below you will now be concrete as opposed to wood,” Lilley said.
The maintenance cost of real wood in some areas of the structure may be offset by the exterior, which will be concrete made to look like cedar lap siding.
The new structure will be about 10 feet closer to the field, eliminating a center stairway that was used as a third exit, but improving the view of the field for nearly all the roughly 1,250 seats.
The number of columns holding up the roof are reduced by half, drawing a few cheers from Wednesday’s audience.
One man asked if the front rows will still get soaked when it rains.
“You might get some at the very front row,” Lilley said, if the weather was really rough and the wind was blowing the right way. “We extended the roof a little bit farther than what was there.”
Winter pointed out wooden side panels added by the review committee to help maintain the feel of the old stands and provide some weather protection to the seats on the edges.
The only area of concern a few people noted was a covered area for the concession stand. The stand will be built in the back of the stands near the bathrooms, and have limited ability to heat and store food, but the only shelter for people in line is a five-foot overhang from the press box jutting out the back. The box extends to the front of the roof. But that was a minor concern. Most people just seemed happy to have a functional concession stand outside the gym. Before the fire, that was the only option for snacks, which could be a long walk for those with mobility issues, Ann Galland noted.
“That dissuades a lot of people to use the concessions. When all you want is popcorn and a bottle of pop, just leave it (in the grandstands),” she said.
Galland, a Monte grad along with two other generations of her family, added she was pleased with the decision to skip the upgrades.
“None of us are multi-millionaires right now, so let’s build the grandstands to the best of our abilities,” she said.