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Posted: 05/14/14


BARNABO BOND

Seen above is the view from the 50-yard line at Barnabo Field. Administrators and Board of Education members said the field, track and buildings are in dire need of repairs, and are proposing a $7 million athletic bond this November to make the necessary renovations. The board is leaning toward a $7 million bond as opposed to a $11 million bond for repairs such as a new synthetic turf field, a polyurethane track, new team room facilities and new ticket booths, concessions and restrooms.

(Observer photo by Chris Gray)

Athletic bond for Barnabo
remains at $7m

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      Improvements to Barnabo Field are moving ahead with a $7 million price tag.
       The Romeo Community Schools Board of Education made no motions to change a $7 million "no-increase" athletic bond at its May 5 meeting, saying it's the first step toward improving all facilities.
       The board first approved of the $7 million bond in March, but in April considered whether bumping it to $11 million would provide for a better field.
       The $7 million would not increase taxes above their current levels but lacks funding for locker rooms, expanded seating and parking lot reconfigurations. The $11 million would include these amenities but hike up taxes.
       Greg Brynaert, athletics and activities director, presented a $7 million bond to the board, saying the district has the opportunity to improve the field without burdening taxpayers.
       "We are not talking about trying to create a luxury facility, we're trying to update a facility that is over 42 years old, it is aging, it is crumbling," he said.
       He said the field was built in 1971 and served 893 high school students when it had its first football game in 1972. The student population is now closer to 1,800 students, and the field has around 73 events a year.
       Brynaert said the improvements would increase the annual amount of events to 125, including football, lacrosse, soccer, band and other tournaments.
       "The way it is today, we are over-using the facility for all our middle schools and high schools," he said.
       Replacing the field with synthetic turf would cost an estimated $900,000, and replacing the asphalt track with a polyurethane track would cost $425,000.
       "People a lot of times look at this (synthetic turf field) as a luxury," he said. "It is a thing that has a consistent surface throughout the entire field . . . it provides a usability, a safety aspect of that as well as softness."
       The most expensive improvement would be $1.5 million for a new team room facility. The team rooms would be 1,350 square feet each with four toilets and rooms would be built for referees, storage and first-aid.
       A new facility for concessions, storage and restrooms would cost $1.1 million and include an 18-toilet facility and storage for electrical and mechanical equipment.
       In addressing the $11 million bond proposal, Brynaert said there was no need for locker rooms with showers at this time.
       Bleachers will be expanded from 2,830 seats (2,250 home, 580 away) to 3,500 seats (2,700 home, 800 away) for $160,000. About $175,000 of the bond will go toward installing new bleachers in the Romeo High School gymnasium.
       Though the parking lot wouldn't be reconfigured, it would be patched up for $150,000 to fix the potholes.
       Other aspects include two new ticket booths, new concrete walkways that extend to the parking lot, a gravel loop for buses, a new scoreboard and a bigger press box.
      
A bigger plan

       Brynaert said he didn't see the upgrades at Barnabo Field affecting any future projects to renovate the district's facilities.
       Trustee Chris Young, who voted against going forward with the bond in March, restated his position of holding off and assessing all facility needs at once.
       "I want to know a set plan for what we are going to do with all of our facilities, including Romeo Middle School," he said. "I have to see a full assessment before I can say or support anything."
       Board President Ed Sosnoski said the district conducted an assessment of each building two years ago, and it'll take another year or two to put together a comprehensive facilities bond.
       "It's my opinion and a lot of people on this board to take each battle as it is presented to us," he said. "We have a glaring need out here . . . that is fixable, and it's no increase to taxpayers."
       Board members agreed, saying administration's best idea to begin repairs to the district's facilities is the athletics bond.
       "This is something we've needed for a very long time," said Trustee Sara Murray. "It's vital to the safety of the students that use it."
       The board has scheduled a workshop meeting for Aug. 11 to discuss addressing facility needs.
       For the bond to appear on the November ballot, the district must submit it to the Michigan Department of Treasury by June 4. Approval of the ballot language is required by August.


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