Updated: 2:35 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013 | Posted: 2:10 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013

Final design stage begins for Barnitz Stadium renovations

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Final design stage begins for Barnitz Stadium renovations photo
RICK McCRABB/STAFF
Workers from the Motz Group work on the turf at Barnitz Stadium on South Main Street in Middletown.

By Hannah Poturalski

Staff Writer

MIDDLETOWN —

The Middletown school district has contracted with Fanning Howey architects to design up to $2 million worth of construction improvements for Barnitz Stadium.

School board members on Monday approved a contract that will pay Fanning Howey on an hourly basis, not to exceed $120,000, to develop design and engineering plans for future renovations at Barnitz Stadium.

The district will also pay the architecture firm a fixed amount of $35,000 to oversee construction phases next year and work with contractors, according to the contract.

“We want to reinforce this will only be donated dollars,” said George Long, business manager for Middletown City Schools.

According to an initial project report from Fanning Howey, the preliminary scope of design work could include renovations below the bleachers to provide an additional locker room and weight and training rooms, the design of additional practice fields, parking and drives on the site and design of stadium and site lighting.

Long said while Fanning Howey will design up to $2 million worth of construction, the amount of renovations at Barnitz will be dependent on how much private fundraising is committed.

Long said a committee is currently being formed that will provide Fanning Howey with feedback on what construction projects to prioritize based on the amount of private donations received. That committee will be comprised of original committee members from Barnitz construction; representatives from boys and girls athletics; and the community at large, Long said.

“A committee will work with architects to develop the scope,” Long said.

More than $1.5 million of private funds have been committed so far including major donations from Atrium Medical Center ($750,000), Middletown Community Foundation ($500,000), Sodexo ($300,000) and Cohen ($50,000).

The first phase of renovations at Barnitz was completed this August, with the installation of synthetic turf and bleacher upgrades at a cost of $750,000. The second phase of upgrades, costing about $388,000, will begin in two weeks when Hamilton-based Innovative Energy Solutions retrofits the electrical system and lighting fixtures to be more energy efficient, Long said.

Katrina Fugate, head coach for girls soccer, said the varsity and junior varsity teams played their first games on the synthetic turf this past weekend. She said the players were apprehensive to the change at first, but were pleased with the quality of the field.

“It’s the new hot thing and they can’t wait to be on the field as much as possible,” Fugate said, adding all games will be played at Barnitz in the 2014-15 season.

Fugate said the turf field will help the soccer teams next year because it provides a quicker ground for moving the ball. She said the grass field at the high school often becomes muddy during rainy weather and doesn’t accommodate as large of crowds.

“It’s good when we have fast players on the team; it’s a wider field than we’re using now so it gives more room to pass with,” Fugate said.

Fanning Howey’s design of final construction will be completed by Dec. 31, with construction bids being accepted in February 2014, according to the initial project report.

Long said a “true grand opening” of the renovated Barnitz will be celebrated in the fall of 2014.

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