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Anti-Debely coalition voice legal concerns

POSTED December 8, 2009 11:42 p.m.
Despite the threat of potential litigation at Tuesday’s Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting, the board moved forward with the master plan of the Joe Debely Stadium renovations with some additional add-ons for a cost of about $3.6 million.
The Turlock Citizens Coalition, a group of at least 30 neighbors who live near the stadium and led by Dana Vaughan, hired Modesto Attorney Richard Harriman, who was in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting giving his input on almost all five agenda items regarding the Joe Debely Stadium renovations.
“I suggest you look into these items to protect yourselves over potential litigation,” Harriman told the council during public comment.
Harriman’s main concerns were the impact the renovations of the stadium would have on the surrounding environment, he said at Tuesday’s meeting, regarding the California Environmental Quality Act, lighting, drainage, parking and traffic for the neighborhood surrounding the stadium.
He voiced most of his concerns during the agenda item concerning CEQA, regarding whether the renovations would violate this act.
According to Roger Smith, TUSD facilities planner, the Joe Debely Stadium renovations don’t violate CEQA under three categorical exemptions, which are under the Civic Center Act regarding the stadium being used for public use.
The public’s main concerns voiced at Tuesday’s meeting were the decimal levels of sound coming from the field, the public’s use of the field, and the infections people can get from using the plastic turf that will be installed at Joe Debely.
The plastic field can give infections to the students with the heat that can house bacteria, Vaughan said.
“There is an impact on anybody using the turf,” she said. “We support a stadium that gives our children everything they need, but with all the issues examined.”
After public comment, the board developed more questions to be answered before adopting the master plan for the Joe Debely Stadium renovation.
Trustee Loren Holt brought up the idea of replacing the stadium lights to be more energy efficient. The rest of the trustees liked the idea and asked Darden Architect to return to the next meeting on Jan. 5, 2010, to discuss the pricing of replacing the lights.
“The lights will be a benefit to the neighboring community,” Da Marto said.
The original master plan that was adopted on Tuesday will cost a total of $3.4 million, with $2.8 million coming from the City of Turlock in Redevelopment Agency funding. The board also approved additional construction to be done to the stadium that will make the total cost of the project as of Tuesday, $3.6 million.
The new additions the board adopted include a joint-entry point at Marshall Street with a ticket booth for a common entrance for the home supporters and visiting supporters. This joint-entrance will cost $184,000, according to Darden Architect.
They are also adding a new restroom facility on the visitors side that will be American Disability Act compliant, costing $260,000.
The total project, as of Tuesday, will include an all-weather track, artificial turf football field, accessible pathways to and around the stadium, handicap stalls in the restroom facilities, ramps and seating for handicap seating to be ADA compliant, an assistive listening system, accessible snack bar windows, a new main entrance with a ticket booth, and a new restroom on the visitor’s side.
The stadium is expected to be finished by the first football game of next year in September, according to the Darden Architects project schedule.
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail mmartens@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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