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MASD mini-stadium nears final approval, could be completed by August 2020

By Phyllis Zimmerman, Special to the Press & Journal
Posted 6/5/19

The Middletown Area School District is edging closer to construction of a synthetic turf stadium project with a final completion date tentatively scheduled.

Last week, the Middletown Area School …

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MASD mini-stadium nears final approval, could be completed by August 2020

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The Middletown Area School District is edging closer to construction of a synthetic turf stadium project with a final completion date tentatively scheduled.

Last week, the Middletown Area School Board authorized project architects to continue plans for a new athletic amenities building and new storage/maintenance facility that would be included in a 500-seat mini-stadium project already approved by the school board. Board members gave architects the nod after reviewing minor revisions of building sketch plans presented to the board in April.

Additionally, architect Dave Horn, president of Architerra, presented the board with a tentative project timeline that already appears in action.

Engineers filed an application for a required FFA permit for the project May 18. The federal agency replied on May 21, but it wasn’t quite what engineers had expected. Architects are required to file individual reports about each of the project’s light poles by June 20.

“We weren’t expecting that. We’ve seen similar projects that weren’t required to file light poles separately and could do it in one application,” Horn noted.

Architect and district officials also met with representatives from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission on May 9 due to the project’s proximity to the turnpike, which is visible from the high school’s grounds.

The stadium and athletic amenities facility will be located in an area in front of the high school now occupied by grass soccer fields, with the athletic building situated immediately adjacent to the stadium. The new maintenance/storage facility will replace an aged structure now in use behind the high school between the track and baseball field. The building is used to store outdoor athletic equipment.

Turnpike officials initially noted the project’s status as “no problems anticipated” but have since requested more details about the stadium’s field lights, Horn said last week.

All in all, engineers tentatively plan for the project’s overall permit process to be completed by Sept. 26, the same date that final review of construction bids is slated for completion.

Construction contractor bids tentatively are set for public advertisement on Oct. 3, with a bid deadline of Nov. 3.

Construction contracts could be awarded by Dec. 3, with construction beginning on Jan. 3. “Substantial” project completion could occur by July 14, with final touches in place by Aug. 4, 2020.

Horn said that his biggest concern about maintaining a project timeline are permit delays, “particularly the NPEDS,” or National Pollution Discharge Elimination.

Meanwhile, updated price estimates for the overall project appeared to remain in limbo last week when school board member John Ponnett Jr. asked about costs.

“I’m not here to talk about costs tonight. I’m looking more for feedback for designs,” Horn replied, to which Ponnett stated that he was “disappointed.”

David Franklin, the district’s chief financial officer, said on Friday that he was “not sure when the last update on prices actually were provided.”

Franklin said last month the most recent price estimate for the stadium field and structures was $3,264,735, but an exact cost figure remains in flux for now until the district finalizes building designs and advertises for construction contractor bids. Previous cost estimates were based on the district’s initial plans to construct two athletic amenities buildings. Plans since have been consolidated into one building divided into separate team and coach areas.

“We were given an estimated cost of $638,000 for the storage building near the baseball field … (but) we have changed the design from two (athletic amenities) support buildings to one support building. I don’t have a cost estimate for a singular building, but the cost estimate for two support buildings was $669,000. I would think that the singular building may be slightly less even though the size would need to accommodate what would have been stored in two buildings,” Franklin said.

Horn said last week that architects expect to provide the district with final construction costs estimates “between the time the (project) permits are received and (construction contractor) bidding.”