The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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March 24, 2014

District considers land survey, study at Windber Stadium

WINDBER — Windber Area school directors are taking another step toward acquiring the stadium their football team has called home for generations.

While negotiations remain ongoing to acquire the site from Windber Stadium Authority, a necessary precursor to any district-led improvements there, the school board is considering having an area firm conduct a topographical survey and environmental land study on a series of properties that comprise the stadium site.

The board on Tuesday considered three survey proposals to conduct topographical studies on the property, which has been home to the stadium since the 1950s. The apparent low bid of $30,100 was submitted by H.F. Lenz Co. of Johns­town.

“When you are dealing with a property like this one, there’s a lot of unknowns. That’s why it’s so important to conduct studies like these,” district Superintendent Rick Huffman said.

In-ground testing also will be done, he noted.

While there’s currently no cause for alarm, the district must be cautious because new regulations have changed the game for land development in recent years. A property that might have been fine generations ago may require special preliminary work or remediation prior to construction today, Huffman said.

“A lot has changed in 50 years. We have to go into this with our eyes wide open,” he said.

The district is considering a plan that would revamp Windber Stadium. As part of a possible $2.7 million overhaul to athletics fields, the stadium would receive a new field, possibly with synthetic turf.

New seating, restrooms and a concession stand would be added, along with a new entranceway and front facade, which would have a brick walkway where people could gather before the game.

Huffman said the walkway would pay homage in some way to the stadium’s founders and other major contributors.

The project is envisioned as being at least a year away, he said, noting that several hurdles remain, including reaching a deal with the stadium authority.

The Tribune-Democrat was unable to reach authority members for comment.

Lenz’s low bid on the survey was recommended for approval by Harrisburg-based McKissick Associates, which has helped the district narrow its options on school renovations.

The firm said all three companies submitted offers proposing to do the same scope of work.

District officials assigned board member Joe Felix, a borough engineer, to review the proposals and said they will bring the matter up for a vote at their next meeting on April 1.

In other news:

• Next month the school board also will likely consider a proposed contract with McKissick that would have the firm help guide districtwide renovations from concept to construction over the years to come. The proposal’s fee schedule, board member Rob Marhefka said, will depend on the size and scope of the overall project.

• Huffman said the district’s possibly $100,000 technology plan, which will propose wireless and portable devices for the elementary school among other districtwide changes, likely will soon be on the table for review as well. The district is planning Google Chromebook training for faculty and administrators, he said.

David Hurst covers Windber for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/tddavidhurst.

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