Plans for a new stadium to replace the aged one at Elma High School’s Davis Field moved ahead last 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.
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 would be collected over 20 years.
The grandstand at Davis Field is not scheduled to be demolished until the end of the boys 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 about 80 years old, have required costly repairs for more than a decade.
Ryan Moore, the Vector engineer who completed the studies commissioned by the board, estimated that the repairs would cost $100,000 to $150,000 just to keep them safe for the upcoming year. He recommended at a meeting in September that they be demolished.
While the plan for the new stadium is still being finalized, Elma School Board member Larry Bridenback said it is likely the new field will be constructed on 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 that sits on higher ground. He added that while plans for the type of stadium are likewise still being discussed, they most likely will include aluminum seats and concrete risers.
He said they are looking to create a grandstand with 1,500 seats so that Elma would be eligible to host state playoff games.
He said additional parking will be part of the plan, 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 site include a baseball and fastpitch field. Currently, the area at the elementary school known as Volunteer Field has grass fields used for soccer practice.
Funds from the district’s replacement maintenance and operations levy would also go for more security cameras on buses, wages not covered by the state and some extracurricular activities.
The district also hopes to save some so it can eventually replace the high school gym floor.
“We haven’t redone it for like 10 years and it’s really yellowing,” said Bridenback.