Most of those attending an open discussion about building an athletic complex at the high school in Manawa were receptive to the idea.
The biggest concerns involved how the district would pay for the $300,000 to $350,000 project.
At the Nov. 30 meeting, Ryan Barz and Rich Riggs, of Point of Beginning, presented a “concept plan level” of one option to construct a football field in the center of the track located behind the high school. Point of Beginning is the company that was in charge of the Weyauwega track project last year and the Iola-Scandinavia football field complex a few years ago.
The project would include grading the area in the center of the track where the football field would go, and adding lights, a scoreboard, bleacher pads, bleachers and a security fence. Riggs also recommended adding an underground irrigation system. All these items would be included in the estimated cost.
A press box was not included in the estimated cost. And the Manawa School District’s existing bleachers could be used with the project. Bathrooms would not need to be constructed as bathrooms located in the high school could be used since they are in close proximity to the field. The jumping areas for track that are currently located inside the track would probably have to be relocated to the outside of the track.
In order for the project to be completed by the 2012 high school football season, it would need approval by Feb. 1.
Questions on a variety of topics concerning the project were asked by those in attendance, but by far, most of the discussion revolved around how the project would be funded.
It was brought up that if the project is approved, construction of a new track should also be researched so both projects could be completed at the same time. Briggs stated an 8-lane track with an all-weather surface would cost roughly $185,000.
Ed Dombrowski, district administrator, said the Manawa School District is not in a position to give any money to the project from any of its funds. He did point out that the school district owns 34 acres of land that could be sold, with the proceeds going toward the project. He said that would cover roughly one-third of the project’s cost.
Kurt Kreklow, Manawa School Board president, added, “I have absolutely no problem selling that parcel of land and putting it back into the football field. That’s where it should go. That’s what it was bought for in the first place.”
Paul Sturm, Manawa School Board treasurer, said that the land is an asset that the district owns and if it is sold and invested into another asset, it is an improvement for the school district.
It was also stated that the company providing the lights would be willing to finance them over 10 years. With that, and the sale of the land, that would leave roughly $100,000-$150,000 left to be raised.
Despite concerns about raising the money needed for the project, several residents voiced their approval for the project.
“Our community is dying and it’s going to die if we don’t do this. Our kids deserve this field. We deserve this field and as a community we can do this. … Why don’t we all put our best foot forward and get something done here and not let our community die. If we don’t do this for our kids, we might as well close the doors,” one resident said.
“I think the football field is a good idea. This community needs it. This community is a football dedicated community. This is a good idea, I hope it goes,” another resident said.
The final discussion revolved around what steps to take next.
“If you look at where we were, and now we are talking about a $300,000-$350,000 contract, it was $1.5 million,” Sturm said. “We have some land we can monetize. This is something that is achievable. As a board we need to figure out how to get to a point where we say, ‘We are going to go ahead and do it. We’re going to get it done.’
“I was curious to see if someone was going to say this is the dumbest idea you ever came up with. I’m really gratified to hear that most people are in support of this. To me, that’s an indication that we are going in the right direction.”