June 27, 2022

School board given two options from district’s engineering firm

Does NCSD renovate or build new baseball field?

Rachelle Hines, a partner with FRK Architects + Engineers, hands school board member Travis Padget a copy of a presentation she gave May 9 about the options for Newton's home baseball field, which is currently owned by the city and received heavy damage from a March storm.

Newton schools has two options: It could either renovate the existing damaged baseball field at Woodland Park or construct an entirely new diamond south of the softball field parking lot near H.A. Lynn Stadium, a representative of the district’s engineering firm said May 9 at the school board meeting.

Rachelle Hines, a partner with FRK Architects + Engineers, presented both options for discussion with school board members. The option to renovate the field — which is technically owned by the city — would provide new lighting, infield surface, backstop, dugouts, fencing, bleachers and press box.

To renovate the field, Hines estimated it would cost more than $807,000. In the presentation, FRK noted this was only an opinion of the project construction cost and could make no warranty as to the accuracy. The firm does not have control over costs of labor, equipment or materials or the contractor’s method of pricing.

However, the idea that caused the most discussion with school board members was the idea of a new high school baseball field.

FRK estimated the total cost to construct a new field to be more than $2 million, factoring in soft costs, a contingency allowance and the construction of the field and lighting. Other costs such as fixtures and equipment were not included in the firm’s estimate, which, again, is not guaranteed to be completely accurate.

“Obviously, that is going to be more expensive because it’s all new infrastructure, all new drainage,” Hines said, later noting the neighboring softball field cost the school district about $1 million to construct by 2018. “…Baseball has a bigger footprint. It’s almost double by the time you get everything calculated out.”

Outlines of the new baseball diamond do not include restrooms or concessions. Designs also show the facility set up south of the parking lot along South 15th Avenue West. The field takes up most of the green space, which is often used for school soccer practice and Newton Area Soccer Association (NASA) practice.

“So it would take over those fields that you use right now,” Hines said. “So that’s something to consider as well.”

Kendall Miller, president of NASA, said it “would be bad news” for the organization if the soccer fields across the parking lot disappear, and he questioned where the boys and girls soccer teams would practice when there are events or other activities taking place at H.A. Lynn Stadium.

Using a synthetic turf could allow for some soccer teams to play or practice in the outfield. Hines said it could fit both options and would likely be more expensive, have a different type of maintenance and could last up to 10 years. She did not have the prices for synthetic turf for either project option.

Superintendent Tom Messinger said the baseball field at Woodland Park has been temporarily repaired by the city. The field was damaged heavily by the March 5 storm and would not be fully fixed before baseball season ends, which was threatening the possibility of any home games this season.

If the school district wanted to renovate the field with the city, Hines said it could probably be addressed immediately after baseball season. The timeline for the new baseball field could take a little longer.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.