PARKERSBURG - Wood County Schools will solicit an "expression of interest" from architectural engineering firms to look at facilities throughout the county, with Stadium Field being a top priority.
The Wood County Board of Education gave its blessing Wednesday following a presentation on the recently closed bleachers at the Parkersburg High School facility. The bleachers were closed last week after a visual inspection report by architectural engineering firm ZMM indicated the nearly 90-year-old cement structures were decaying and were not safe for use.
Sue Woodward, assistant superintendent of school services, said the solicitation would ask for "expression of interest" for a county-wide contract. Those that submit would then be reviewed for a full contract with Wood County Schools.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Wood County Board of Education President Tim Yeater, center, explains the process through which the board will receive “expressions of interest” from architectural firms during Wednesday’s meeting.
"We don't have one engineering firm we do business with," she said. Woodward said Cabell County Schools uses one contracted architectural engineer and has had good success with that arrangement.
Some board members expressed concern over whether the larger contract scope would slow down work at Stadium Field, but Superintendent Pat Law said any group hired would understand the need at PHS.
"This would be our number one priority for the school system," Law said.
Finance Director Connie Roberts said she has the specifics of the solicitation prepared and the district could have responses by Dec. 20.
"There is a consensus. We would like to move forward with this," said board President Tim Yeater.
PHS Principal Pam Goots said the loss of the bleachers affects more than just football, which is the school's primary revenue sport. In 2011, Stadium Field was used for 95 events not related to the high school. The stadium also is used for middle school and private school athletics.
Goots said the field is the primary source of revenue for athletic programs at the school. This year the school took in $100,000 in football ticket sales, $12,000 in soccer ticket sales and $6,000 in reserved parking fees.
Concession sales during football games help fund other programs, such as high school wrestling and the Big Red Band. Signs within the stadium raise about $24,000 in revenue.
Since its creation in the late 1990s, the Stadium Field committee has raised and spent about $2.5 million in field improvements and repairs, she said.
Goots asked to be included in the committee reviewing the architectural engineering firms.
Law said Wednesday's meeting was only an initial step. Yeater indicated the board would be willing to call additional meetings if there was a need for board action on contracts or other steps in restoring Stadium Field.
Both Law and Yeater said the cost of the project cannot be determined until more is known about the state of the bleachers.
"We are very, very early into this process, determining what needs to be done, what can be done," Law said.