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OEC plan inches ahead

SOLON– The consensus buzzword for an Oct. 18 Solon Community School District Board of Education work session was “functionality” for the construction of the Solon Outdoor Events Center (OEC).
A list of recommendations for the board came from Superintendent Sam Miller with ball park figures for home bleachers and a press box, concessions and restrooms, team buildings, artificial turf and a parking area.
Was consensus reached?
At the end of the meeting, it appeared the two separate team room buildings (also to be used as storage areas for soccer, band and other needs) would be left to future development and fundraising.
Superintendent Sam Miller sent architectural firm Shive-Hattery a list of the school’s desired amenities and specifications with instructions to finalize the OEC design and calculate proposed costs.
The current OEC list includes: home side bleachers, press box, home and visitor side concessions and restrooms, a modest ticket booth for home and visitor entryways, a track and field run extension, grading for future parking, and the optional design bid for team rooms, official’s room, and storage.

Taken by the numbers:
“900 above and 900 below;” the home side bleacher seat count with a student section, for a total capacity of almost 2,700. Class 3A football requires at least 2,000 seats.
$125,000; the estimated cost of building an elevated press box on the home side.
$40,000. That’s the cost of relocating the track team’s long jump pits to fit with an artificial turf carpet.
Two; the number of concession stands deemed necessary to minimize fans from “mixing” at games. Restrooms and concessions have long been visualized as a single end zone destination and separating the two will cost $52,000 more for visitor and home food stands and restroom facilities.
$450,000; the architect’s budget for separate team room buildings to be used for storage and future locker space. The two buildings are destined for the northwest end of the field, bordering Racine Avenue and Sovers Street.
$30,000; the amount the school now pays annually to maintain the football field’s natural grass sod.
$800,000; Superintendent Miller’s artificial turf estimate which includes installing all drainage; a full-size fake green carpet with white football lines and alternate color soccer lines; and bonding the carpet to the underlayment.
$25,000; cost of painting the Solon Spartan helmet logo in the center of the artificial turf field.
8-15; the range in number of years discussed by board members for an artificial turf’s lifespan. The actual lifetime will depend on its usage.
$6 million; the upper limit of money the district could get through a SAVE (Secure and Advanced Vision for Education) bond, according to Piper Jaffray, the investment company which will create a district sales tax revenue bond. The SAVE fund is generated through state sales tax revenues to be used for school infrastructure projects.
$3 million; the rough amount the district will receive from a bond to construct 1,800 bleachers, restrooms and concessions buildings, a press box and artificial turf. The interest payback will depend on the term of the bond, one figure discussed at the meeting was five years, another was 12.
5-12 years; the time it will take the district to pay off the project, after it pays off the current 2017 bond, which funded improvements to Lakeview Elementary and the Solon Middle School.
$30,000; the total cash on-hand of the Solon Education Fund’s OEC money. Another $30,000 has been promised in commitments.

Who will be able to use the Solon Outdoor Events Center?
“My overall goal is to have this be a facility for all students and all events,” board member Dean Martin said. Almost immediately following this statement, the board members discussed a strategy to limit the field’s use because of the durability of artificial turf. Miller said that a “protocol and approval process” would be needed to regulate school activities on the artificial turf. Community usage was also discussed.
“We have to be careful what we say,” said newest board member Dan Coons.
Superintendent Miller later said, “I get excited thinking about this facility and the uses of it.”
Miller thought having two concessions will avoid mixing between teams’ fans and noted, “Some of our fans’ behavior is troubling and I’m talking about the adults.”
He said during the last home game, the officials’ safety was a concern.
The separate team buildings are a sticking point for the board and have not been resolved yet. “I like the location and concept of the team rooms but I’m balking at the price,” Martin said.
According to an early Shive-Hattery drawing, the price for two separate team buildings at the northwest end of the field is $450,000.
For 2012, the team rooms may have roughed-in utility connections, or might be left for future construction.
Board member Dick Schwab took a long view of the team buildings. Referring to the OEC’s grand vision and fundraising project, he said, “The big opportunity for (future) giving is whether we have team rooms or not.”
But Schwab also said, “I love the idea of being done with this… We’re done fundraising. We’re done asking people for money.”
OEC Project Fundraiser Steve Duncan made his pitch for keeping an entryway that would acknowledge donors, a place referred to several times as the $50,000 grand entrance. Duncan also said that no money was given to the project with stipulations about its use.
The board is still considering where to transfer the $30,000 remaining in the Solon Education Fund and future $30,000 promised by donors.
The OEC project was originally planned to be paid outside of school funds, by grants and private donations at an overall cost of $4.5 million. An original design of the project had included a lighted entryway at one end of the field and a single concession and restroom area at the other end.
The board has not yet set a date for the first reading of the OEC construction and bond plan but discussed meeting before the November regular board meeting.