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Stadium renovation costs increase
TUSD board moves ahead with Debely plans
The Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees voted to move forward with the Joe Debely Stadium Track and Field Renovation Project plans, extending the project architect’s contract. - photo by MAEGAN MARTENS / The Journal
The potential costs and benefits of renovating Turlock High’s Joe Debely Stadium was the number one topic of discussion at Tuesday’s Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting.
A report submitted to the board by the Darden Architect firm outlined new costs that would be incurred if the district went ahead with renovation plans. The original estimates had costs at about $2.8 million, but with American Disability Act mandates the estimated cost of construction increased to about $3.4 million. That number does not include expected expenses that would be incurred with moving school events to other venues.
The project was originally expected to be paid in full by Redevelopment Agency funding, if allocated by the Turlock City Council.
“This project will exceed $2.8 million,” said Ed Felt, TUSD deputy superintendent. “About 80 percent is city funding and about 20 percent will be district funding. At first, the district was responsible for zero funding; now about 20 percent of the funding will have to be paid by the district due to ADA compliance.”
The cost to the district of having to move spring sports events and commencement ceremonies from Joe Debely Stadium to other venues has not yet been determined.
If the TUSD decides to go forward with the project, Turlock High commencement ceremonies could be held at California State University, Stanislaus at a cost of about $5,000 to $8,000, said Dana Trevethan, Turlock High principal.
Softball and baseball games could be moved to Pedretti Park at no cost, Trevethan said. For track and field teams, Dutcher Middle School and Pitman High School facilities could be used. Transportation costs could be the only funding concern with moving spring sports activities off THS campus.
Superintendent Sonny Da Marto said that the additional costs of renovations could be paid for with previous years’ RDA funding the district has received and not yet used.
The RDA funds within the school budget can only be used for RDA purposes and can’t roll over to any other funds, said Lori Decker, TUSD chief financial officer. If the RDA funds within the school budget are used for the 20 percent increase in renovation costs the district will have to pay, it will not be taken from programs or salaries.
Felt suggested that the school board set aside $45,000 every year, if the project is adopted, from RDA funds that are brought in for resurfacing the track and field within the next eight to 10 years.
About every eight to 10 years, the new all-weather track will have to be resurfaced for a total of about $125,000 and then be replaced within the next 18 to 20 years for a total of $360,000, Felt said. The football field will have to be replaced every 12 to 15 years for a total of $360,000.  
Although there are additional costs, the district will actually be saving money from reduced maintenance costs, according to Felt.
The project is also expected to bring in additional revenue for the City of Turlock.
“If we wait one year, we will have the same issues we do now,” Felt said. “If we wait five years from now, we will have the same issues we have now.”
The renovation project will give Joe Debely Stadium an all-weather track, artificial turf for the field, new pathways to and around the stadium, one new toilet building with one handicap stall, ramps for wheelchair access, about 20 handicap seats on each side with about 20 companion seats on each side, accessible snack bar windows and accessible ticket booth windows.
Darden Architects is also preparing for being required to have an additional bathroom building to be ADA compliant which will cost about $175,000, said Marty Dietz of Darden Architect.
To add the handicap seating, the seats will be built in front of the bleachers at the same level as the current bleacher seats causing the 10 foot walkway in between the bleachers and the fence to minimize to a five foot walkway, Dietz said. The five foot walk way will pass the fire code, he said.
Along with the tight squeeze in the walk-way, the track and field will be tightly knit together as well, said Derek McKee of Verde Design.
Even with some disadvantages, the design team and architect team said they are positive they can make it work for Joe Debely Stadium.
“You can’t go on the field if it is muddy,” Felt said. “We will have access to this field 365 days a year and school is only in for 180 days. We want to build something welcoming to use for everybody.”
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.