By a 5-3 vote on Monday evening, Lehighton Area School Board approved Barry Isset & Associates, Inc. to complete the site feasibility study for the proposed multipurpose stadium site.
By approving the site feasibility study, the District Stadium Committee will be able to present a full proposal for the construction of the new stadium with budget and financial estimates for final ratification by the school board as directed to do so by the board last September.
If approved, the current football stadium, located at Beaver Run Road and Mahoning Street in Lehighton, would be replaced with a new multipurpose stadium to be built near the district's existing field hockey and track site.
It would be located between the Lehighton Area School District Administration Building and the high school.
"Why are we doing this now?" asked school board director William Hill. "We are looking at 'guesstimates' of $12 million for the elementary schools and now another $6 million for a stadium."
According to Lehighton Area School District Superintendent Jonathan J. Cleaver, "We're at a standstill right now. The Stadium Committee needs direction from the board."
Hill suggested that the special presentations should be made to the public.
"Let's take it to the taxpayers and see what they have to say," said Hill.
"Everyone knows we have to do something about our stadium issue," said school board President Rocky Ahner. "But like many others, my main concern is where is the money coming from?"
"Where is the money for the cost of the study coming from?" inquired school board Vice President Hal Resh.
"It is part of the Building and Grounds budget," replied Cleaver.
When all was said and done, voting in favor to approve the site feasibility study were Jack Finnegan, Dave Krause, Larry Stern, Wayne Wentz, and Andrew Yenser. Ahner, Hill, and Thomas Zimmerman voted against it. Resh abstained.
"We debate over renovating elementary buildings where our students get their start. Yet, we can move forward on a stadium at the blink of an eye," concluded Ahner.
Last September, Barry Isset & Associates, Inc. presented three stadium options to the school board. The one currently being studied involves developing a new site near Lehighton Area High School. This would include new home and visitor grandstands for a seating capacity of 2,500; a new press box; a new field house structure; a new storage/restroom structure; new fencing to provide a secured site; new stadium lighting; a multipurpose turf field; and constructing it as an ADA-accessible site.
At that time, the anticipated budget of this option which includes demolition; grandstands; NPDES permitting; site work; artificial turf; and new structures was projected to be between $4,700,000 and $5,430,000.
For the entire PowerPoint presentation by Barry Isset & Associates, Inc., visit the LASD website at www.Lehighton.org. Click on "Files and Documents" under "Quick Links." Click on "District." The presentation can be found under "Building Feasibility Study."