A public tour on Sunday will give local residents a chance to see first-hand the problems the Roland-Story school district is seeing at the current football/track stadium and the high school auditorium. The tour will begin at 4 p.m. and will start at the north gate of the football field. Following the tour, there will be a short presentation of the proposed projects, and significant time for questions and answers.
“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,” said Superintendent Matt Patton.
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.
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 athletic complex
The current football facility 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. 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.
If the Feb. 6 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.