Waupaca School Board reviews options
By Robert Cloud
Waupaca may close Haberkorn Field and consolidate its field sports at the high school.
The school district must either repair or replace the bleachers and the track at Haberkorn Field, following a hazard control assessment by Employer’s Mutual Casualty Co.
The assessment found potential safety concerns and recommended retrofitting or replacing guardrails, seats and access ramps. The report also recommended an engineering review of the structural frame and the footings, as well as a review of the integrity of the structure.
The track also needs to be resurfaced or replaced.
At a Waupaca School Board meeting Thursday, Dec. 8, John Kneer, a project manager with Rettler Corp., explained the district’s options.
The district would spend an estimated $730,950 to make improvements at Haberkorn Field.
The total costs for renovations include $452,500 for the grandstand, $120,000 for site improvements, $30,000 for demolition, $20,000 for a structural engineering review and $108,450 for soft costs and contingencies.
Relocating the football stadium to the high school site is projected to cost $2.32 million.
Costs for the new site would include $201,000 for earthwork, $298,725 for field utilities and a new turf base, $521,610 for synthetic turf and field equipment, $290,000 for track surfacing and improvements, $220,250 for building and site amenities, $432,500 for grandstand improvements and $353,535 for soft costs and contingencies.
“It would cost more to fix the existing grandstand than to provide new bleachers,” according to Kneer.
He noted other benefits of moving the football stadium from Haberkorn to Waupaca High School.
Athletes have to be bussed even to home games at Haberkorn. Parking is spread throughout the neighborhood. The track is unusable for meets and the Haberkorn site can only be used for football.
Kneer said moving all field sports to the high school would eliminate the maintenance costs associated with two natural turf fields at two different sites.
He said early spring practice could be held on the synthetic field, thereby relieving wear and tear on the natural turf fields during the rainy season.
“Synthetic turf lasts about 12 to 15 years,” Kneer said.
The product has an eight-year warranty.
Below the artificial grass are a shock pad and layers of rubber infill and sand.
Synthetic turf reduces injuries and concussions, Kneer said.
When asked about recent reports of health hazards associated with synthetic turf, Kneer said, “There’s no consistent data to show there’s any health hazard.”
Three federal agencies – Consumer Product Safety Commission, Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control – are currently investigating the toxicity of synthetic turf fields due to reports of cancer-causing agents in the rubber.
The focus of their investigation is fields with rubber made from recycled tires.
Kneer said the rubber now used in synthetic grass fields is recycled from shoe soles.
Paying the bill
Carl Hayek, the district’s business manager, said the project to build a new field at the high school can be completed without passing a referendum or raising taxes.
However, it would require financial support from the community.
Hayek said the district can draw nearly $698,000 from its fund balance and capital projects funds.
Another $100,000 can be raised by selling Haberkorn Field.
Hayek said a real estate agent has indicated that Haberkorn Field could be sold for as much as $300,000 if the property was rezoned for commercial or multi-family residential development.
Another proposal under consideration is the sale of the administrative office building on School Street.
Administrative offices could be relocated to the high school. The remodeling is estimated to cost $125,000.
The School Street building would then be sold for an estimated $300,000.
By moving the administrative offices to the high school, the district could save more than $20,000 per year in utility and custodial costs, Hayek said.
The district could cover about $1.1 million of the estimated project costs by using available cash and selling assets. Community fundraising could cover the remaining $1.2 million.
“We would like to gauge community interest in this project,” District Administrator Greg Nyen said.
The board’s next step in this project will be to vote on a resolution to allow businesses, civic groups and individuals to make donations specifically for the athletic field.
Haberkorn Field options will be discussed at the next school board meeting, slated for 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, at the Waupaca Middle School Library.