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Plans for MAHS mini-stadium progress, might open in 2020

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 4/3/19

Middletown Area School District’s plan for a new 500-seat synthetic turf field is moving forward, and the district presented its plans for the “mini-stadium” to the Lower Swatara …

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Plans for MAHS mini-stadium progress, might open in 2020

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Middletown Area School District’s plan for a new 500-seat synthetic turf field is moving forward, and the district presented its plans for the “mini-stadium” to the Lower Swatara Planning Commission on Thursday.

The plan is not being submitted to Lower Swatara Township as a land development plan, which would require the Board of Commissioners’ approval.

According to Planning and Zoning Coordinator Ann Hursh, the plan is being submitted as a stormwater management plan which only needs to be reviewed by the township engineer.

Township Engineer Andrew Kenworthy said they would look closer at the plan when the district formally applies, although initially they had no concerns.

“It looks like a nice facility,” said commission member Eric Breon.

Holly Evans of Evans Engineering said plans call for the design and approval process to be discussed through late summer, with the project put to bid in the fall and the mini-stadium constructed and completed by summer 2020.

The project is estimated to cost about $3.5 million. MASD Superintendent Lori Suski said during the meeting that the mini-stadium is to be funded through the district’s capital reserve fund.

The field would be located in the southeastern corner of the campus near the Pennsylvania Turnpike and North Union Street, on the site of two practice fields.

The mini-stadium would seat 500 people and have a support building. War Memorial Field still would be used for the MAHS football team; the new mini-stadium would be used for field hockey, soccer, and youth football.

MASD Director of Operations William Meiser said initial plans called for two support buildings on either side of the grandstands. Now, Meiser said they’re planning on having one, which consulting architect Dave Horn of Architerra said will contain team rooms, dressing rooms for officials, a triage room and equipment storage.

The playing surface of the field could last anywhere from eight to 12 years, depending on the amount of play and how well it is cared for, Meiser said. Replacing the top layer of the playing surface would cost about $400,000.

According to Evans, the flow of runoff water to the stormwater systems will be reduced. The stormwater will flow off the field, and there will be a drainage system around parts of the perimeter to pick up the water and store it underneath the field in a basin. The water then will be released into pipes that go underneath the turnpike.

Meiser said there never has been flooding on the current practice fields. Evans added that the land would be elevated.

“You will not see anything that even closely resembles what you’ve seen in the past out there. When all is said and done, it’ll be a nice, beautiful turf field, spectator seating area, grandstand area,” Evans said.

Plans call for building a bus loop and drop-off area for the field close to the high school parking lot.

However, because of ADA requirements, plans add an ADA parking lot with 10 spots near the new mini-stadium instead of restriping existing parking spots in the high school parking lot.

The field will have LED lighting. Evans said that wouldn’t be an issue for driver visibility on the turnpike.

There’s a walking path on the current site of the mini-stadium. Under the new plans, the walkway would go around the field.

The board looked at 10 options of what the field could look like — including the color of the “M” in the middle of the field or whether they wanted Middletown or Blue Raiders on the edge of the field — during a special meeting March 26.

Several of the board members said they liked an option that had a blue border around the field and a yellow “M” with a blue outline in the center of the field, although no official vote was taken. Horn said words on the edge of the field would cost $10,000 to $17,000.

“I think we should avoid Raiders and Middletown all together because there’s controversy on all that stuff,” said board member Julie Gomboc-Turyan.

She said having only a blue border wouldn’t leave out the Lady Raiders or other area teams that might play there.

Board member Christopher Lupp asked whether the color would fade. Horn responded that while the fibers may get more worn, the vibrancy would remain.

Meiser said they could paint on the field if it was a special game, such as parent night.

The district is a month ahead of schedule, officials said.