Fredonia board modifies proposed sports complex

The proposed sports complex as part of Fredonia Central School’s EXCEL Capital Project for the Main Street campus may look a bit different than what was originally proposed.

During a recent board of education workshop, Brian Trott and Robert Nordin of Clark Patterson Lee Design Professionals went over the costs of three different scenarios for upgrading the school’s sports facilities.

Nordin said that the sports complex, as presented by the Fredonia Sports Complex Initiative at a previous meeting (an all-in-one approach of an international-sized track on top of the old track with a football/soccer field in the middle), would cost about $2.4 million if a natural grass field is incorporated.

A turf field would cost an additional $1.1 million, roughly.

A second layout of the sports complex was also brought to the forefront by Nordin, who said he, Trott, various school officials and the board Visitation Committee looked into this option before the workshop.

“The second plan that we looked at was to take the existing track, rebuild it at its current location, we’re not changing anything within the track, upgrading the field that’s inside it, … and then looking at building a soccer/football field (behind the tennis courts and playground) with additional parking, bleachers, concessions, walkways, adding lights, things that would be done to build a complete complex there for football/soccer,” Nordin outlined. “It impacts the existing varsity softball field, so we would look at building some new dugouts and improving the current practice field to get you a varsity-level softball field there to replace the one there. There’s only a need for a baseball field and a softball field. We didn’t need two softball fields.”

This second option would cost about $2.25 million with a natural grass field.

“On top of this, you’re going to have the ($535,600) reconstruction of the track, which is a part of the EXCEL project funds, so that will be added on,” Nordin said.

Minus rebuilding the track, this second option would be a part of a second phase of the EXCEL project, giving more time to the FSCI to raise the necessary funds to cover the local share of the project ($600,000). The track and the indoor work of the EXCEL project would be a part of Phase I.

The third option discussed was upgrading Fredonia’s current football field, the Orange Bowl, which included new sidewalks, a concession stand, bleachers, handicap accessibility and grass field improvements, including for drainage. Upgrades would total about $1.2 million.

“We did the Orange Bowl numbers just so everyone could see that you’re probably putting a lot of money into an area that we wouldn’t be completely happy with after the fact,” Superintendent Paul DiFonzo said.

“We think we can fix it, but we’d rather not,” Trott said. “We’d rather go and do one of these two other options here and get out of the flood plane, to be honest. The accessibility is so much easier in either one of these other concepts.”

After the presentation, the board discussed which option they thought was best, citing various reasons for not siding with the FSCI’s proposed all-in-one complex (parking congestion; infringement of the track on the baseball fields; the sun affecting people’s vision due to the field’s direction; the close proximity to the school; and other practical reasons).

“In just looking at it and being practical, a concern I have was … by putting a bank of bleachers (on the all-in-one facility), when I walk outside and look through any of the school’s windows, I can see everyone on the field. If I put a big set of bleachers here and we have an emergency drill and I have 30 kids out here for physical education, I don’t see them all and that’s a concern to me.”

DiFonzo said he would look to the board to pass an intent resolution recognizing the need to upgrade the school’s athletic facilities, giving the FSCI a commitment so it can begin fundraising for the project.

The FSCI had cited major safety and convenience concerns with the Orange Bowl as part of a previous meeting and had pledged to the board they would raise the necessary funds, but only if the board committed to at least doing something in terms of fixing up the fields.

The next regular board meeting is today at 6:30 p.m. in the high school library. At that time, the board may discuss possible EXCEL project resolutions to present to voters in the community.

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