AP NEWS

Greenwich school board to get update on Cardinal Stadium plan

May 15, 2019

GREENWICH — Now that the Representative Town Meeting has approved Greenwich’s municipal budget for 2019-20, school district officials will update the Board of Education on the status of the Cardinal Stadium project at a meeting Thursday.

The RTM approved $3.9 million to replace the bleachers and press box at Greenwich High School — phase one of a $21-million, multiphase project to upgrade and expand the facilities surrounding the football field. The school board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at Hamilton Avenue School.

Interim Superintendent of Public Schools Ralph Mayo closed the home-side bleachers a month ago after the Town of Greenwich Building Department and engineering firm Team DTC declared the bleachers “dangerous and unsafe.” The review came after a visiting parent had reported a potential safety concern regarding the visitor-side bleachers, which were not found to be unsafe.

Advocates have long said the stadium is over-due for upgrades. This year, BOE members and the Greenwich Athletic Foundation redoubled their calls to upgrade the facilities, starting with money to fix the bleachers.

After Mayo closed the bleachers, administrators decided seniors will commence at Cardinal Stadium on June 17, with the crowd seated in rented chairs.

Closing the home-side bleachers poses challenges for the fall sports season. To minimize the impact of construction, the district plans to remove the existing bleachers and rent temporary, ADA-compliant bleachers from Sept. 1 to Dec. 15, 2019. The rental, including bleachers and a press box, could cost up to $164,000, according to estimates from several firms that officials consulted.

Sixty-eight members of the RTM who voted Monday night did not support the $3.9 million allocation, and voted to cut $500,000.

Those who voted for the cut support the “long overdue renovation” of the bleachers, bathrooms and team rooms, said District 7 Chair Wynn McDaniel, who put forth the motion. Still, these members want more time to examine the second phase of the project, which calls for new parking lots and new roadways.

Board of Education Chair Peter Bernstein said Monday that the first phase would only replace the broken bleachers and address issues with the press box. The later phases are only in the design stages, and he assured the public will have time and opportunity to speak on it.

Phase one will also include an elevator to the press box, electrical service and updates to “related roads and parking,” a temporary toilet facility and changes to the field’s lighting. It also includes money for a site plan approval, the administration of design and construction for the first phase and design for the second phase.

The placement of the bleachers will depend on whether the existing ones are demolished in time. If the bleachers are taken down, the rental ones might encroach on the paved area between the fence enclosing the track and the front of the existing bleachers.

If not, the rental stands might encroach on the track, which will require the existing fence and poles to be removed, officials said.

The bleachers would fit about the same number of people as the existing bleachers and cost $96,000 to rent. The school could add a press box to the bleachers for an additional $68,000. A cheaper option would be to put the press box next to the bleachers, costing an additional $42,000.

The district would need to go through the public bid process and obtain quotes for this project, officials said.

If the district decides to rent equipment, officials said the firms recommend that the bid process “should be started immediately.”

“All of the firms that this office spoke to stated that the time frame for our rentals is their busiest time of the year,” officials said, with other sporting events, holiday parades and outdoor concerts going on.

Repairing the existing bleachers would cost $211,000 and $283,000, more than either of the proposed rental options.

“The district is already heavily engaged in the Cardinal Stadium Project, which includes the design and construction of a new bleacher system (for) home and visitor sides,” officials said. “To spend this type of money for such a short amount of usage does not make sense financially.”

jo.kroeker@hearstmediact.com