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Fate of Armstrong Junior-Senior High School athletic complex fate not sealed | TribLIVE.com
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Fate of Armstrong Junior-Senior High School athletic complex fate not sealed

Tribune-Review
| Friday, November 7, 2014 1:16 a.m

Armstrong School Board hasn’t completely given up on building athletic facilities at the new Armstrong Junior-Senior High School in Manor.

The board plans to hire L.R. Kimball Architects and Engineering in Ebensburg to conduct a yearlong study of the district’s buildings, athletic fields and properties to determine if any changes or upgrades need to be made. The district will pay $15,000.

The study will include ways to pare back a $10 million athletic complex proposed at the new school, which was sidelined last month after fundraising efforts fell short by $9 million, said Brian Hayes, an engineer with Kimball.

Hayes said his firm will include several versions of scaled-back plans for the athletic complex. Hayes did not have cost estimates or specific plans available Thursday.

“We’re going to look at ways to keep a new complex viable for the district,” Hayes said.

Board President Joe Close said despite allowing bids to expire in October, officials never intended to give up on the athletic complex project.

“This is something we didn’t want to push too far onto the table, and we do want to keep exploring ways to provide facilities at a reasonable cost,” Close said.

Officials have not decided which facilities it will use for athletics once Kittanning and Ford City high schools close, though officials said both schools’ stadiums would need to be upgraded to handle larger crowds.

They did not talk about how to pay for the facilities, or if they would be finished by June, when the $55 million high school opens.

Other buildings

Hayes said although there are no specific upgrades immediately on deck for other buildings, it takes several years for officials to develop plans.

“Now would be the time to begin looking at the needs at the other buildings, especially the area’s elementary schools, since the district’s high schools are modernized,” Hayes said. “We’ll also have to look at all of the athletic fields and see what needs done to each one with the closing and merging of these schools.”

Hayes said the plans don’t always lead to major construction projects, but lead to infrastructure upgrades.

He plans to examine utilities and energy consumption at each facility to determine how the district could benefit from more efficient heating and ventilation or plumbing systems.

The study, which officials conduct every two years, is required for the state Education Department to help cover any construction or renovation costs, Hayes said.

Close said the study is an essential piece to continue developing the district.

“Everything we’re doing right now is looking toward the future,” Close said. “This should give us some options.”

The board plans to take a final vote on the study at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, at West Hills Intermediate School in East Franklin.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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