Delayed Carroll revamp takes off

May 7, 2019

Northwest Allen County Schools’ first official step in making a nearly $25 million upgrade to marching band and athletics facilities got positive public feedback Monday.

“This needs to be done and is overdue,” Superintendent Chris Himsel said following the first of two required public hearings.

Recovering from the recession and prioritizing classroom space needs have delayed the Carroll High School site improvements, Himsel said. Initial planning began in the 1990s.

The district is not pursuing a referendum for the $24.82 million project, Himsel said. The additional debt will be offset by older debt that is being paid off by the school system.

Voters last year supported a $33.98 million referendum that is funding a new elementary school and districtwide improvements.

Improvements under consideration at Carroll address insufficient facilities for activities such as football, track, soccer and marching band as well as parking and traffic flow.

“We’ve actually had our seating condemned and had to do some emergency repairs in order to have some football games,” Himsel said of the bleachers.

Plans presented Monday include building functional washroom and concession facilities for outdoor events; creating locker room space for outdoor activities; rebuilding and upgrading the track surface; upgrading the soccer seating and lighting; installing an asphalt-based, weather-proof surface in the marching band practice area; and installing synthetic turf on the football field.

The existing football field is designed to be used eight to 12 times a year, Himsel said. An artificial turf could be used more frequently and for other purposes, he added.

The track/football facility and soccer practice area would be relocated within the site to address items such as traffic flow, seating capacity and parking capacity, Himsel said.

Only two people : both parents : spoke during the hearing but offered their blessings with one commending the district for being fiscally responsible.

The football team’s record last season was a disappointing 3-7. The marching band, however, went to state for the third consecutive year. It finished eighth in Class A.

Kent Somers, board president, said he wholeheartedly supports the project.

“The timing seems to be wonderful for this project,” Somers said.

The next hearing will be May 20. Assuming the project moves forward, the earliest work could begin is this fall, Himsel said.