By Mary Spicer
It’s going to take more than a new roof to put the Meadville Area Senior High School varsity football team’s locker room back in the starting lineup.
In fact, restoring the single-story structure on the eastern end of the James C. LaScola Fieldhouse overlooking Bender Field in the Barco-Duratz Athletic Complex will take an extreme makeover with an estimated cost in the neighborhood of $624,000.
A streamlined version that would narrow the original space by 12 feet and permanently move the varsity team’s locker room to a different location in the fieldhouse carries an estimated price tag of $414,000.
Following a presentation before Crawford Central School Board during its monthly work session Monday night, architect Vince Ordinario of HHSDR Architects Engineers, who had been hired to come up with a plan to put what was there originally back into place, was sent back to the drawing board in search of a less-costly Plan C. With three options in hand, the board will decide on its next step.
Before the roof literally fell in on Feb. 9, 2011, the varsity locker room was on the first floor of the fieldhouse. The visiting team’s locker room was also on the first floor, but it was housed in the two-story portion of the building, which is set into a hillside. Its rear wall faces North Street.
At the time, truss failure was said to be the cause of the collapse. However, in detailing the steps that must be taken to repair the damage, Ordinario explained that the only way to restore the locker room to its original layout is to move it 12 feet forward, leaving the original concrete block retaining wall in place, constructing a new concrete retaining wall to serve as the rear wall of the new structure, replacing the floor and then rebuilding the whole thing. As for the 12-foot space between the original and new retaining walls, temporary shoring put into place to support the wall would be removed and gravel backfill would be installed between the two walls to provide support for the original wall. Ordinario noted that eliminating the original retaining wall would be extremely difficult due to its proximity to North Street.
As for the cause of the collapse, Ordinario noted a combination of factors, including the lack of an adequate concrete floor in that portion of the structure and the use of concrete blocks to construct the retaining wall. “There was nothing holding back all that dirt,” he said.
Part of the cost of the project is to keep the sidewalk separating the facility from North Street from shifting as the soil supporting it erodes.
Superintendent Charlie Heller noted that the roof collapsed for a variety of reasons, including the weather.
“It’s important to keep in mind that the collapse is now in the hands of attorneys for litigation,” Heller told the board at the outset of the discussion. “We may not know the outcome for years to come. Until the litigation process is complete, the board will have to pay for the repair.”
Board member Mitch Roe said he wants to brace the wall temporarily so that the space can be used and form a committee to raise funds, much like the Community Athletic Project committee that brought the original revitalization of the facility to fruition. At a cost of $3.3 million, the field officially opened in 2003. “It’s not fair to put this on the taxpayer,” he said.
There’s no reason we can’t go to the CAP committee and say, “We know we’re going to need X dollars,” President Jan VanTuil said. “Do you have as much interest in raising this money as you did the original amount?”
Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.