School Board Approves Legion Grounds Renovation Plan | New

OTTUMWA — Legion Memorial Field is about to get a facelift.

At Monday’s meeting, the Ottumwa Community School District School Board unanimously approved the first phase of a multi-phase project to breathe new life into the high school’s baseball field.

The most significant changes under the first phase include a wider and taller safety net, as well as the repurposing of bathrooms for storage, the conversion of the current shelter into a concession stand and meeting rooms. handicap accessible baths, as well as new exterior fencing and physical improvements. A pair of 12-by-14-by-70-foot batting cages are also part of the phase.

“When we talk about partnership, it really is partnership,” Superintendent Mike McGrory said, referring to the Ottumwa A-Club’s help in funding the project. “We knew we were going to do it, and now it’s exciting to get to this point.”

The school district purchased the land from the City of Ottumwa over the summer, and the renovations will bring the facility into more modern times with ADA compliance. The total cost for the project phase is $295,835.

“I believe the batting cage we have is the original batting cage, and it’s definitely seen its lifespan,” OHS baseball coach John Jaeger told the board. administration. “It’s in pretty bad shape. It’s sunk in and there’s wood that shows bullets are ricocheting. There are holes in the net.”

Many of the upgrades will be similar to what Davis County built at its new baseball and softball complex. The base of the safety net will be three feet high and will be padded on the side facing the court, and the net will be 40 feet high and will be attached to poles and will be 140 feet wide, essentially dugout by canoe.

There will also be new eight foot high black vinyl chain link fencing around the outside of the field.

“We’ll be able to control the entrance a little better, but it will have a really nice appeal,” said operations manager Brandon Brooks. “You’ll be able to see through that and see the setup a little better.”

The shed that will be converted will also be refurbished and brought up to code, said A-Club President Sonja Larkin. The A-Club is contributing $50,000 to the concession stand, Larkin said, and proceeds from the concessions will benefit all sports programs.

The rest of the funding for the project will come from the school’s PPEL funds. Chief Financial Officer John Berg told the board that because the school district received $800,000 a year, the district took care of some longer-term projects.

“PPEL funding helps us sustain and deliver projects like this at our existing facilities,” he said. “So we’ve been able to do some things in the last two years that we had on a roster for five, seven, 10 years.

“So we don’t expect to see as many needs for repairs or improvements, and this $800,000 will allow us to tap into the funds for these kinds of projects. It will be around $250,000 for us after the contribution from the A -Club, so it will come out of this annual allowance.”

The concrete part of the project may not be fully completed in the first phase as the second phase will include new bleachers and it is unclear how this would affect the concrete placement. The renovations for the first phase should be done before the 2023 season.

The second phase would involve modifying the playing surface, irrigation, new bleachers and a possible structure above the batting cages to make it a potential year-round facility. It would probably be after the season.

“When we looked at that, we kind of considered safety as our top priority,” McGrory said.

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