Pell City BOE moving forward with sports complex project
by DAVID ATCHISON
This is a rendering of the Pell City High School Spring Sports Complex with site improvements.
PELL CITY – The school system is moving forward with plans to improve the Spring Sports Complex, including the construction of a new quarter-mile track for track and field events.

“This will enable some of our youngsters to compete for track scholarships,” said Bobby Hathcock, superintendent of Pell City schools.

On Tuesday night, the Pell City Board of Education approved moving forward with securing an $8 million bond issue to develop the Pell City High School Spring Sports Complex and to complete upgrades to Pete Rich Stadium.

The big ticket item in the proposed projects is a new high school track, which according to plans will surround a multipurpose field. At both ends of the multipurpose field are areas for field events, such as the high jump, pole vault and long jump. There is also a shot put area east of the running track.

“It’s going to be an eight-lane track, so we can hold sectionals,” Hathcock said.

Sectional track and field meets are competitions where track and field athletes qualify for the State Track and Field competition in May.

Plans are to construct the new track behind Duran North Jr. High School, adjacent to the baseball and softball fields.

He said PCHS is the only Class 6A high school in the state that doesn’t have an outdoor track. He said a new high school track is long overdue for the school system.

Hathcock said currently there is also inadequate access to the high school softball and baseball fields.

The master plan for the Spring Sports Complex has improved road access, and provides close to 200 parking spaces for spectators or visitors.

The preliminary drawing for the sports complex includes new tennis courts and two practice fields, one of which can also be used for parking.

He said the band or football team could practice on the concrete practice area/parking lot when the ground is wet from rain.

According to plans presented to the board in 2011 and designed by McKee and Associates Architecture and Interior Design of Montgomery, the track bleachers would seat about 500 spectators, and the sports complex could have up to eight tennis courts. Plans include lights and concrete sidewalks throughout the complex. The complex will have new restrooms and a ticket building.

Hathcock said part of the bond money is allocated for upgrades to the high school football stadium.

The plan presented by McKee and Associates included new fencing and brick posts around the football stadium, a new press box, concession stand, restrooms and ticket booths.

The stadium project could include new seating for the host and visitor sides of the field, interior fencing, and a fire truck road, among other items. Upgrades to the stadium were estimated in 2011 to cost about $1.75 million.

Hathcock said the school system plans to spend no more than $8 million and will stretch the money as far as it can.

Hathcock said he would talk with coaches to help prioritize the work, if bids exceed available funds.

“We will fund as many things as the money will let us,” Hathcock said.

He said the drawings presented to the board during an April 25, 2011 board meeting were only preliminary, and plans could change.

Hathcock said there are a lot of uncertainties with the sports complex project, especially when it comes to the site preparation work.

“We know it’s going to cost a lot for the site work,” he said.

Hathcock said there are also plans to repave the front parking lot at the high school this summer.

“We’re excited about this,” Hathcock said. “This is really huge for us. In two years, you won’t recognize the high school.”

He said there is a small window of opportunity for the school system to move forward with the spring sports complex and stadium projects before there is a possible demand for a new school or more classrooms.

“We’re in pretty good shape right now,” Hathcock said, adding that six new classrooms, which could act as a storm shelter should be completed at Williams Intermediate School by fall. The paving of the high school front parking lot and the classrooms/storm shelter addition to Williams Intermediate School are being paid for with other money, not with the bond money the system is expected to secure within the next couple of months.

However, Hathcock said part of the $8 million bond issue would pay for a new pitched roof and window repairs at Duran South Jr. High School.

Contact David Atchison at datchison@dailyhome.com

© 2013