‘Scaled back’ activities complex subject of Sept. 7 forum

The Glenwood Booster Club is holding an informational meeting Sept. 7 about the proposed new Glenwood Activities Complex and a recently-completed feasibility study.

Last fall, the booster club presented an ambitious, privately funded $5.2 million plan for a top-to-bottom overhaul of the current athletic complex that houses Ram Memorial Field, A.C Nuckolls Baseball Field and  the softball field that could serve the district for the next 30 to 40 years.

The study, conducted by public relations firm Lukas Partners of Omaha, included interviews with dozens of Glenwood School District residents. The results of the study show, “a majority of the study participants consider an activities complex to be a priority for Glenwood and the surrounding areas” and that most are “personally in favor of embarking on a capital campaign for the proposed project.”

The study goes on to say, however, “based on feedback” the project will likely have to be “scaled back” from its original design that featured a complete overhaul of the athletic complex to a more realistic goal of completing upgrades in several phases over a multi-year time frame.

All but a fraction of the cost of the proposed renovation would come from a capital fundraising campaign spearheaded by the booster club. The Glenwood School District has said it would be contributing approximately  $200,000 of the new complex’s price tag if it goes forward.

The booster club’s original bold plan for the $5.2 million facelift includes upgrading its aging bleachers, field house and outbuildings into a modern showpiece capable of hosting football, soccer, youth programs and marching band competitions to rival any facility in southwest Iowa.

The improvements would also add artificial field turf, a multi-tiered grandstand with a mezzanine view, expanded press boxes, locker, meeting and training rooms, new bleachers for home and visitors sides with seating up to 2,700, including 84 premium seats and a scenic path linked by a pedestrian bridge to a natural prairie, more parking and a dedicated bus and vehicle unloading zone.

Much of that plan is still possible, said Scott Miller, who along with wife Chris are co-presidents of the Glenwood Booster Club. Just perhaps not in the form as laid out last fall in the detailed architectural renderings or all in one sweeping construction project, he said. The scaling back of the project, he added, refers to the potential size, cost and timeline of the project.

“We’re kind of thinking this will be a multi-year project now,” Miller said. “One part is the phasing (timeline) of the project but it’s also fair to say it could be scaled back somewhat. This was an ambitious, big project. I get that. I think if we scaled back it could save us some money. I think that (the cost) was a big sticking point for some people.”

Glenwood Community High School Activities Director Jeff Bissen, who has worked closely with the booster club on the proposal, said the response to the project has generally been good. Survey respondents recognize the need for facilities upgrades but the cost associated with such a project has raised some questions. The intent of the Sept. 7 meeting, he added, is to answer many of those questions, show the plan in detail and to lay out how the renovation could be completed in phases based on priority over a multi-year timeline.

“We want to share the results of the feasibility study and at the same time show we have a plan in mind for moving forward,” Bissen said. “We’ll go over everything that night so everyone is on the same page as we move forward.”

Glenwood’s current athletic track would appear to be a priority in the renovation plans. Installed in 1999, with a life expectancy of 15 to 18 years, the track was on schedule to replaced over the next few years at an estimated cost of $100,000.

Bissen couldn’t pinpoint when fundraising could potentially start for the project but did say Glenwood would like to follow a similar model undertaken by Treynor, Harlan, Council Bluffs Lewis Central and Plattsmouth, Neb., in their own recent athletic complex renovations.

“We want to make sure everyone is on board and we have a clear and concise idea of what we’re trying to do,” Bissen said. “We’d like to start fundraising as soon as possible. If that means this fall or next year, we need to make sure to have our ducks in a row. We want to make sure this is the right complex for us right now and the future.”
The activities director expects a big turnout for the meeting.

“I hope people will come out and get the information about what our plans are moving forward,” Bissen said. “I hope this project, when we  can get it going, will have people rallying around it and be in support. We hope to offer the best facilities to not only our student-athletes but also the community. It will be used by everyone in this town.”

The Opinion-Tribune

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