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Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Stadium's future wobbly

St. Marys

By Amy Kronenberger
ST. MARYS - The bleachers at the football stadium are in need of repair, but some school officials don't want to put any money into a facility that has a limited future.
The annual inspection report of bleachers by structural engineering firm Jezenerinac Geers & Associates, Dublin, said the visitors' bleachers at Skip Baughman Stadium are "continuing to exhibit distinct progression of concrete deterioration."
"If we don't do anything, somebody could get hurt," school board member Ralph Wiley said at a building and grounds committee meeting on Wednesday.
Those at the meeting - Wiley, fellow school board member Brian Little, district business manager Kurt Kuffner, superintendent Shawn Brown and athletic director Doug Spencer - agreed they don't want to put money into new bleachers when they are used only about 15 hours per year and will be used only another five to 10 years. They hope a new $4-$5 million stadium complex near the new middle/high school will be complete at that time.
Trisco Systems of Lima estimated new bleachers at $200,000. No quotes were given for repairs to the existing seating.
"I think we just need to throw everything on the table because this is scary," Spencer said. "This is just the tip of it because there are more costs that aren't included here, for something we don't really have a long-term need for."
Brown agreed.
"I hate the idea of pouring that much money into that facility," he said. "Is there something we can put there that we can use again later? Just to put $250,000 at a minimum at that place and then maybe five years down the road ... we start working on that (new) facility, it seems like we just lost $250,000."
Brown asked if they could purchase new bleachers that could be moved to the new complex or another facility when the time comes. Officials intend to move the home-side bleachers to the visitors' side of the new stadium near the school.
Plans for the new complex have been put on hold until funding is available. The complex currently includes artificial turf inside an all-weather track but no stands or restroom facilities. Fundraising for the athletic complex project has stalled at $1,000.
Spencer suggested renting bleachers for Skip Baughman until the new facility can be completed while Little proposed borrowing unused bleachers at K.C. Geiger Park.
Wiley suggested they get all possible costs, from renovating the existing stands to all options of replacing, and meet again to decide the best course of action. The committee agreed.
Also at Wednesday's meeting, the committee discussed hiring MSA Sport, Cincinnati, to inspect all school athletic facilities and create a master plan for future needs.
Bill Baker of MSA said he would tour all sites and meet with staff, coaches and boosters to determine needs and a wish list. He then would develop diagrams and rough budget ranges, take feedback from school officials, refine the concept and provide a final package.
Kuffner had recommended hiring MSA to create a master plan at a cost of $9,800. The district has been creating separate plans for each facility, adding up costs, he has said. Creating the master plan would save money in the long run.
Brown disagreed, saying the school cannot justify spending additional money on athletics.
"I'm not in favor, and I've said this before, of spending nearly $10,000 to do this right now," he said. "In my opinion, now is not the time to spend $10,000 on this project."
Little and Wiley both said a master plan is a good idea to save the district money. Little suggested limiting the use of MSA.
"What if we do as many of the steps we can ourselves, then call you in later for a lower cost," he suggested.
Baker said he can work in any consulting role the school wants.
"We're more than willing to let Doug (Spencer) handle the meetings, and we can just be available on conference call or Skype," he said. "That would save on costs."
Brown agreed creating a plan with MSA in a limited role would benefit the district. No final decision was made.
In other business, the committee,
• learned the district needed to spend $1,340 from the permanent improvement fund on grass repair at Skip Baughman after the Celina football game Sept. 21.
• learned as of Sept. 28, the permanent improvement fund had $262,908; the locally funded initiative fund had about $3.8 million; and the maintenance fund had $635,174. Estimated 2013 revenue for the permanent improvement fund is $332,452 and $173,526 for the maintenance fund. The locally-funded initiative fund contains money leftover from the school construction project; the money cannot be used until the state closes out the project.
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