By Dewain E. Peek,
School Board building committee chairman Mike Hayes opened the Tuesday, Feb. 9 meeting by presenting the possibility of buying land from Dr. Larry Mason.
One area for consideration has a total of 59 acres, which is located behind the Livingston Academy football stadium, and another area is 74 acres behind the LA softball field.
Hayes suggested purchase of at least 10 or 11 acres so a running track could be built in the future.
School Board member William Abston said, “I don’t think it would be a bad idea to look at.”
He noted possible expansion of the high school.
School Board member Dolphus Dial said, “If we don’t buy it, someone else will.”
Hayes pointed out that part of the area is wooded and on a ridge, so the school system would not be able to use all of the land.
Discussion then turned toward renovation of the football stadium.
Hayes noted that $3.3 million would be needed for bleachers and facilities and another $930,000 for ground work.
Overton County Board of Education has already approved $4.3 million for the project, but Hayes said that would need to come out of the fund balance because the county does not appear inclined to approve a loan for the project.
“So, if we’re in that particular situation, I don’t feel comfortable using half of our fund balance money to do this,” Hayes said. “I do know those bleachers have to be replaced. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it, they’ve got to be replaced.”
He said the proposed plan calls for 2,500 seating capacity on the home side and 1,000 on the visitors side, and suggested reducing the home side to 2,000 capacity and 800 for the visitor side to bring costs down.
The home side is currently 1,800.
Seating is $225 per unit, according to Hayes.
“What number are we willing to spend on that?” Hayes asked.
He noted that just the bleacher seats would take three to four months production before being able to be installed.
School Board member Mitchell Stonecipher asked about the usability of the bleachers as they are.
Hayes said, “The longer we wait, the more risk we have of having something to happen.”
He then suggested having the architect and structural engineer begin looking at ways to reduce cost along with planning the renovation.
Hayes said, “In my opinion, if we got the new bleachers up, and a new black fence put around it, and updated some of the restroom facilities, it would be a good facility.”
School Board Chairman Jarman Hicks said, “I was comfortable as long as the $4.3 million to fix it and fix it right, I’m still comfortable with that.”
The fund balance is currently at $9 million, according to Budget Director Heather Melton.
Abston said people in the community have questioned spending that much money “on that amount of students” with 2,900 students in the system.
Chairman Hicks said, “We’re going to have to go forward.”
He said he didn’t want to get bogged down in starting a process all over again.
Hayes pointed out that the land purchase and football stadium renovations are not tied together. One can go forward without the other.
Hayes said, “This land aspect has nothing to do with this. We could talk about that as a separate entity as far as buying that and working through that. We won’t have to wait to do anything on that.
School Board member Ricky Dodson said, “I’m like Doc, I think we’ve talked long enough on the football field. We need to move.”
Hayes said he would ask the architect and engineer to attend the next meeting.