[Gallery] Collingswood To Demolish WPA Grandstands, Replace With 1/8 Seating And Porta Potties

Letters were distributed to homes of students of Collingswood School district stating the intent to demolish Shields Stadium. The members of the Board of Education for the Collingswood school district have decided to raze the historic grandstands at the Middle and High School campus and replace with a smaller set of seating and temporary facilities to make up the difference for the next few years. How did we get here? 

As part of the information outreach to the community, the Collingswood Board of Education scheduled 3 tours for the public to see the current condition of the High School’s outdoor athletic facilities ahead of the vote for the Outdoor Enrichment Bond Referendum. The vote was on March 13, 2018 and the community voted with an overwhelming no to the planning committee.  The project was projected to cost 13.7 Million Dollars with 95% to be paid by taxpayers- $700,000 would have been in State Aid.

What Did The Bond Referendum Include For The Stadium?

The construction project would have included demolition of the current 10-acre facility. Including 2 baseball fields, the football field, archery and track spaces, a practice field, basketball and tennis courts, running track, and 4,000-seat grandstands that has a concession stand, bathrooms, and many storage spaces housed underneath.

The new construction would have involved refilling and re-grading the field, reorienting the field to face more of an East-West Direction for the football/ soccer/ lacrosse/ field hockey field, new grandstands with seating for 1,500, a new 6-lane track, archery space, 2 new baseball fields, 2 practice fields, and a combination tennis & basketball court space. Underneath the new seating will be a 1-story building that will house team rooms, restrooms, and concessions. Also slated was an additional structure built that would have served as storage for the teams and clubs and a learning space for the district’s 18-21 Program.

Here is what I saw when I took the tour:

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Dedication Plaque

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Underside of the grandstands to see issues with separation between sections.

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Concession Stand

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Metal added to reduce crumbling concrete from falling.

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joins between seating sections

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rebar seen in storage areas

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repairs made to grandstands seen from the storage areas

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overview of storage areas under grandstands

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South End of the Grandstands

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interior of storage under grandstands to show that there is some issues with flooding

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overview of track and field

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part of track- surface separating from material underneath

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south end of practice field

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view of south end of field

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archery

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view of field from north west side of field

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south end of property- Newton Lake seen, high jump area

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detail of some crumbling of grandstands

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baseball field close to Eldrige

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Baseball field closest to south end of property- Newton Lake

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view of grandstands and drainage along the track- facing north/ Eldrige

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Detail of seating and some crumbling

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detail of pass-through area long front edge of grandstands

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view of 4,000 seat grandstands

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detail of seating

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detail of some rebar seen along edges of the stepped seating area

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view from grandstands to football field

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The Community Debated About The Condition Of The Facilities

A lot of discussions had centered around which is a better choice for our community.

  1. A total replacement
  2. Repair or improvements made to the current facility

World Cafe Meetings- The Board Listens?

The Harvest Report from the World Cafe Meetings from September and October 2017 were also shared earlier this week. This report showed where community members were positive on the plan, negative, and questions that were still outstanding.

I question the intent of these meetings with the community. When this same report was presented at a Board of Education meeting then-Board President Hatzell seemed to minimize the intent of those who took the time to attend, listen, and give their feedback.

The Board Moved forward with the special election, despite many concerned residents coming to a regular meeting of the Board of Education on 11/20/2017 . The wording for the ballot was approved at a meeting on 2/21/2018.

The Board Acts After The Failure Of The Bond Referendum Vote

On April 23, 2018 the Collingswood Board of Education held a special meeting to discuss this and other issues. At this meeting, the board debated whether the better option was to do minimal repairs for $250,000, demolish the grandstands for $500,000 or do the repairs to the existing structure for $1.4 million.

At the end of this meeting, the Board approved a withdrawal from the Capital Reserve account for $750,000 to be used for some purpose at the stadium that was to be later determined after more research.

A Plan To Demolish The Grandstands

At the regular April 30, 2018 meeting, the Board reviewed the options for the seating, storage, bathroom, and concessions that are within the grandstands at the Collingswood High and Middle School Complex Stadium. The decision to use the money from the Capital Reserve to demolish the existing structure and erect temporary structures (Temporary Structures include the purchase of “Portable” Bleachers for 500 spectators, Portable Toilets, Storage Containers) to meet minimal needs at the stadium. This will be sent out to bid in May 2018 with an award in June 2018.

 

What About 4th Of July Fireworks?

From the letter:

 

What do you think? Is this the best move for Collingswood? Is demolishing a historic structure, uncovering unknown hazards, leaving programs without adequate facilities, and a year-to-year budget spend the best move? Will the Board start a new Planning Committee soon to launch a new plan? Will members of the community support this choice?

History:

More About The Project:

If you would like to know a little about CEAG’s history of covering the Bond Referendum, click here.

 

 

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Jen R

Jen R

Jen Rossi, Vice President Jen Rossi moved to Collingswood with her spouse in 2012. She is a graduate of Georgian Court University with a Bachelor's Degree in Education and Fine Art. She has a certificate of eligibility with advanced standing in Elementary Education (K-5) and as a Teacher of Fine Art (K-12). After a part-time floating position and substitute teaching, Jen returned to the corporate world. Professionally Jen is a Digital Marketing Manager for a privately owned insurance brokerage, providing important information on how to reduce the risks in today's business world: ranging from slip and fall injuries to computer network hacks. Getting the information in the hands of people who need it with the help of guidebooks, webinars, instructional videos, blog posts, social media alerts, and online courses. With this background in education and knowledge of the process for communicating important information to anyone willing to hear it, Jen focuses her energy on making a big impact with small things- making life a little more convenient, helping people get informed, keeping things practical and timely, and encouraging achievable goals for success. In her free time, Jen loves upcycling, improving, and otherwise repurposing materials to the delight of family, neighbors, and Etsy customers. She looks forward to running down questions and getting helpful information into social feeds and inboxes of members of the Collingswood community.