Archived Story

Public: District should try facilities vote again, with some tweaks

Published 10:50am Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Fergus Falls school board must decide whether to put the referendum to improve outdoor physical education and athletic facilities that didn’t pass in the last election before the voters again, change it or drop it. About 30 turned out for public meeting Monday to give their input.

“I think we should go again,” said Tria Mann, a parent supporting putting the referendum on the ballot again for voters. “46 percent was a good showing in a busy election. I think it would be excellent for our community and safer for our kids to be able to walk to sports. I’d like to see it.”

“I voted no. I heard the words football stadium, and to me that means big dollars,” said Doug Hansen. “The cost versus the benefit was just not there.”

Hansen suggested that the safety issues could be better explained, and that perhaps the project is too big and too expensive for people to take in all at once.

“The bleachers are not handicap accessible, and there are chunks of cement falling off underside where there are concession workers,” said Superintendent Jerry Ness, explaining some of the safety issues.

“We’ve had stress fractures because of the condition of the field for soccer,” said Karoline Gustafson, girls’ soccer coach. “Any time you can get a sprinkler system in the ground for soccer it’s helpful to avoid injuries from falls, especially with female athletes.”

Sports issues included playing on fields that are not regulation size, such as the softball fields, and having a track without enough lanes to hold regional or sectional meets. Football was a big issue for the crowd.

“The soil is really bad where the existing football field is, and it is not appropriate to support a large bleacher system,” said Ness. “The site would be reconstructed to make it more efficient.”

Ness explained that the football field was sited wrong initially, causing people in the bleachers to be facing the sun. A north-south configuration is more typical. There is also a problem with the area flooding. Dirt from excavation of the new football field would be relocated to the practice fields to help with drainage.

“Who cares about soils and sunlight, I played there and I loved it,” said Eric Berger. “There is an emotional attachment to where the field is now. It’s where it was when I went to school and it’s hard to let go of.”

Berger suggested getting people involved that had a strong connection to the football field in the past — they might want to donate to improvements or have ideas on honoring the past.

Other comments included getting the word out better to the voters, perhaps with a survey, re-evaluating the size of the project, or separating improvements at Kennedy, Roosevelt and Cleveland into separate referenda.

Since the issue did not pass in the last election, the project scope and cost would have to change, and cost decrease at least five percent, to be eligible to go to the voters within six months of Nov. 6. After six months, the project could go before voters again without changing.

“It seems like there is some consensus that we should go out again,” said Ness at the conclusion of the meeting. “We are looking at the end of March to put this out to voters.”

  • Richard Olson

    “The soil is really bad”, now where did I hear that before?
    Oh yeah, the new high school and the new Ice Palace. Can that mysterious traveling aquifer be far behind? How about all the new families that will move here?

    Where ever will we put them? The influx from the new school and ice palace has barely abated. At least let us catch our collective breath, before additional horde’s of eager families descend upon upon us in another desperate search for housing.

  • camobabe

    Another article in this edition relates that the FFHS is contemplating a change to another athletic conference because although the high school now has about 705 students , the projected number will fall to about 500 within just a few years. Yet, the empire building superintendent and the over indulgent mommies and daddies, who are determined that their precious offspring be treated as well as those rare numbers at Choate and other rarified prep schools, press on with their expensive playground projects. No doubt they will be expecting a ten million year round water palace next.
    If the projections are realized, it will be almost impossible to attract enough students into athletic programs to field the minimum numbes of players in a conference sport. But that doesn’t seem to matter to those who want what they want when they want it, and they want it all now!

    • MichaelJ

      I understand people like you have a lot of problems, but to say you don’t want the local kids to have a football field is pretty selfish.

      I wonder if you have any solutions? Anything we could even remotely call an idea?

  • layne staley

    Over indulgent mommies and daddies looking out for their precious offspring? Wow, those are some venomous words there Camilla. My guess is you are still bitter about the whole “ice palace” issue.
    Micheal J makes a good point in wondering if you have any ideas to contribute to the discussion. Doubt it, as most of your comments just hammer away at the people coming up with ideas and labeling them as greedy, selfish people. In reality, they are trying to improve the community in which they live by looking toward the future, and attempting to make it a better place for future generations.

  • J Mullins

    Michael J and Frank, you both personfy the class of people Camilla described as people who want what they want it and they want it all now. You seem not to care that projections are for about a one third reduction in students and demand a very expensive upgrade of athletic facilities. And, now that she points out some inconvenient truths, you describe her as “selfish”, “venemous”, and “bitter” and demand her alternative proposal.

    How about I suggest an alternative solution. Accept that the majority of the people are not going to support this expensive alternative and make do with what is already there. And quit the incessant lobbying for unneeded facilities and the increases in taxes to pay for your whims.

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