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Stadium renovation funding appears to be in place

The dollar commitments are coming in towards the track and field renovation project at Farmington High School and, according to Stadium Renovation committee Co-Chairman Chip Peterson, the feedback has been “very positive”. The committee met earlier this week to look at projected commitments made so far.

“The committee had projected $280,000 for donations from the community, and so far we have received $466,000 in preliminary fund commitments,” he said. Funds for the project will also come from commitments made by the city of Farmington, the Farmington Educational Foundation as well as the Farmington School District committing the amount it currently has budgeted for field maintenance.

Comprised of local businessmen, school district personnel, city officials as well as community members, the committee was formed to explore options to bring the current field and track at the school to a safer and better quality playing field. Plans call for the current six-lane track to be expanded to eight lanes, bringing the athletic field up to the same level as the track and placing a synthetic all-weather surface on the field.

Peterson said the committee originally estimated the cost for the project to be in the $760,000 range – a number the committee has shared is on the “high-end range”. The notice for bids has been sent out with bids to be in by Feb. 8.

“The committee has worked very hard on this project. We looked at the need, exercised what the alternatives may be, looked at the funding mechanisms. I feel we’re doing this the right way,” he said.

Peterson added the response from the community has been very positive and he has been equally impressed at how the city, schools and local businesses have come together.

“That speaks a lot for the community,” he said.

Peterson also expressed his thanks to co-chairman Keith Hutson, public relations chairman Jon Cozean as well as his fellow committee members.

Since originally exploring the idea for an all-weather surface playing field, Peterson shared the committee has heard from school districts in the St. Louis area with similar surfaces about benefits this group “had not even considered”.

Pat Burns, athletic director at Farmington High School, echoed that sentiment when he recalled speaking with officials from St. Louis University High School and Christian Brothers College in St. Louis about the use of their athletic fields.

“They told us they have never seen more usage on their fields since they changed to this surface. They mentioned a number of opportunities we had not even considered,” he said.

Some of those may include the use of the field as a sight for two teams located a distance from each other to “meet in the middle” and play an event.

Burns shared the ability for the field to remain playable in wet weather will cut down on the number of games canceled due to inclement weather. The surface will also be able to be utilized for more than just varsity football.

“The (issues of) lower level football and the band having to stay off the field will be out of the way. This field will also open up another classroom for the physical education classes to use,” he said.

He added the soccer program will also be able to use the field for its matches, with “98 percent” of the games projected to be played on the new field. It will also open up the opportunity for the field to be used as a “neutral sight” for soccer playoff games.

“This field will also be a big benefit for the band and the competition that they sponsor,” he said. “The sky is the limit.”

Superintendent Dr. W. L. Sanders expressed his appreciation to the committee and community for the work on this project.

“I continue to be impressed by the support (the committee) is getting in the community as expressed by verbal commitments. I am also appreciative of the folks who have involved themselves on the committee,” he said. “I am most humbled and appreciative.”

The stadium committee will next meet on Feb. 11 to review the bids submitted for the project. A public hearing to consider a lease purchase agreement will be held on Feb. 15 at 5 p.m. at the school board offices on Ste. Genevieve Avenue.

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