The Roland-Story school district has hired Haila Architecture in Ames to develop plans for a new athletic facility at the current outlet mall location. The plans will include a new field, track, field events areas, parking lot, concessions, bathrooms and locker rooms.
The school board plans to submit a request in September for a bond election that will likely take place in February. That bond issue, the amount of which has not yet been determined, is expected to ask voters to approve the construction of a new athletic facility and the renovation of the high school auditorium.
The bond issue would also fund renovations to the 27-year-old high school auditorium, installing high-efficiency lights and improved sound system. It would include new seating, carpet, stage curtains and paint. It would also add video capability.
“We’re coming up very quickly on the 50th anniversary of Roland and Story City joining together as a school district,” said Superintendent Matt Patton.
In 1968, the communities of Roland and Story City both passed bond issues with the intent to build the elementary school that now stands in Story City.
“Those people 50 years ago had the vision and the foresight to put a new elementary school in place that we still benefit from today,” Patton said. “Not only did they do that, but they sacrificed their own finances and probably paid that bond off in 15 to 20 years like most bonds are paid. And so for the last 30 years, no one in the public has been paying for that, but we’ve all been benefitting from it.
“My thought is that it’s our generation’s turn to step up and do the same thing. Let’s step up and provide something for the community and for our students that 50 years from now, they’ll still be enjoying. A little sacrifice now pays that forward. It’s a continuation of what our community has been and what I think our community wants to continue to be — unselfish and forward-thinking and worried about the next generation.”
The athletic complex
The current football facility was built prior to the consolidation of the two schools 50 years ago. Patton estimates that it was built in the 1940s.
There are several reasons the school district would like to relocate the stadium. Among them are safety, flooding, space issue and environmental issues.
Parking and sidewalks are limited, causing fans to walk to and from the stadium on busy streets, often in the dark.
The football field has flooded eight times in the past nine years. Flooding occurred in June of 2008, June of 2010, July of 2010, August of 2010, May of 2013, July of 2014, September of 2015 and December of 2015.
That flooding is damaging the track and field surface, causing increased costs for repair, and each flood results in significant personnel time to clean the track and fence areas. Flooding even caused the canceling of a football game in September of 2015.
Space issues include limited restrooms for spectators and athletes. The facilities don’t meet code requirements.
The visitors’ bleachers, storage building, shotput and discus rings are on city-owned land. The entire facility is landlocked and there are no options to expand.
Parking is limited. The high school has 154 spaced, and off-street parking provides about 125 spots. There are few options at the current facility to create additional parking.
Stadium seating is limited to room for about 850 on the home bleachers and 250 on the visitors’ bleachers.
Environmental issues include the sulfur smell from the city water pump that is located near the corner of Hillcrest and Broad. Also, the district does not control the water supply for irrigation at the field.
Staying at the current site is also difficult because the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will not allow the school district to raise the field and track area because it needs to remain a flood zone.
A lack of locker rooms at the field causes teams to regularly use the outdoor areas as restrooms.
If the bond issue is approved, the school district has plans for the current football/track complex. The current football field would be used as a practice field for the foreseeable future. For a decade, the district would maintain the current track for community use and some middle school track practices.
Lights, bleachers and other equipment would be repurposed for use at other facilities or at the new complex.
The school district would also be open to future community use of this space for things like Little League fields and trail systems. It would also be open to a developer who wants to build townhouses on the upper parking lot area.
Safety, obsolete equipment and increased usage are some of the reasons the school district would like to renovate the high school auditorium.
The curtains do not currently meet fire code as they are not made from fire-resistant material. Lighting is hot on stage and has contributed to students fainting during performances.
The auditorium was built in 1990, and some of the stage lighting is so obsolete bulbs can no longer be replaced. Energy efficiency would be improved with updated lighting and equipment. The wireless microphones will be obsolete in three years due to FCC regulations. And several seats are broken.
The auditorium is used almost daily during the school year and included more than 50 scheduled performances, presentations and meetings. Between 45 and 50 percent of high school students participate in the fine arts each year. For the 2016-17 school year, that was 163 students.