The Roland-Story school district has progressed with plans for renovation of the high school auditorium and construction of a new football stadium and track facility, funding for which depends on a successful $5.3 million bond election on Tuesday, Feb. 6.
On Sunday, Oct. 22, at 4 p.m., the Roland-Story school district will be offering a public tour of the current football/track complex and high school auditorium.
Nathan Compton, of Haila Architecture, was on hand at the school board meeting Monday night to discuss some of the details of the stadium design his firm has created.
The stadium would be built on the site of the outlet mall, with the grass football field in approximately the same location as the mall building.
Haila’s plans show a tree-lined entry to the parking lot, with plans to reuse as much of the parking lot as possible to keep costs and waste down. Flags and planters will create a “nice procession” into the facility and trees will block the back of the home bleachers.
The plan includes a sitting area/grilling area near the concession stand.
The Victory Bell will be featured prominently at the northwest corner of the field near the entrance. And Haila suggests placing a Norsemen statue inside the stadium near the entrance.
“The Norsemen statue, similar to the Cy statues you see in Ames, would be a grand piece that would welcome people to the stadium,” Compton said.
The north end of the field has a raised berm, and the northeast corner of the facility features a building that would house locker rooms and storage on the lower level.
The upper level of the building would feature a rentable meeting hall with a deck and glass wall facing the field.
A smaller parking lot on the northeast side of the property would accommodate buses and would provide parking for people attending events at the meeting hall.
“This building is a great opportunity to showcase Roland-Story to the thousands of cars traveling on the interstate every day,” Compton said.
Because the building would sit at an angle, two exterior walls would be decorated to promote the school and would be visible to motorists driving from both directions.
Despite its close proximity to the interstate, Compton said it was their goal for people inside the stadium, which would be lined by trees in several areas, to feel “like it’s an intimate environment.”
Graphics on the exterior wall of the restrooms would feature “fun Norsemen graphics” and boards detailing athletic records for the school district.
The design shows an eight-lane track, a long jump area to the southwest of the field, and a shotput and discus area on the southeast corner of the property.
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. 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. The new stadium would have general parking with 440 stalls and an extra parking lot with 70 stalls.
Stadium seating is limited to room for about 850 on the home bleachers and 250 on the visitors’ bleachers. The new facility would offer 1,200 seats on the home bleachers and 300 for the visitors.
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.
If the bond issue passes, the high school auditorium will be renovated. This project would include new high-efficiency lights and an improved sound system. It would also include new seating, carpet, stage curtains and paint. Video capability would be added.
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.
The bond referendum will involve $5.3 million in general obligation bonds. An additional $2.4 million will be allocated from the existing PPEL and one-cent sales tax sources, bringing the total of the projects to $7.7 million.
The district’s current tax rate is $14.27 per $1,000 taxable valuation, which already accounts for the last bond issue that voters approved.
The expected increase in the tax rate would be $1.18, making the total district tax rate $15.45. This bond would be paid back over 16 years.
The school district tax rate in 2012 was $15.93. Approval of the $5.3 million bond will still allow for a lower district tax rate than there was six years ago.
The district is beginning public presentations regarding the project, with Superintendent Matt Patton holding the first one with the Parent Advisory Committee yesterday.
The public tour of the current football/track facility will be Oct. 22.
“This is a critical opportunity for people to get a first-hand look at the significant issues that have led the school board to pursue these projects,” Patton said.
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.
The school district would also be open to future community use of this space and would also be open to a developer who wants to build townhouses on the upper parking lot area.