Liberty County Board of Education members during Tuesday’s work session debated the cost of renovations planned for Bradwell Institute’s Olvey Field and resolved to have a community forum in May to allow residents to voice their opinions about the construction costs.
The project, which involves construction and remodeling, is estimated to cost $7.2 million if phase-two plans are followed, said project architect Walter Altman of Altman + Barrett Architects, a Valdosta design firm.
The forum will be at
6 p.m. Monday, May 9, in the BoE boardroom.
Currently, the firm is constructing new parking lots and working on a field house at Olvey. They’re also ready to build a new practice field, Altman said.
Board members had been set to take a final vote on the extent of Olvey Field work; however, when board member Becky Carter mentioned residents have complained to her about the amount of money being used on the field project, the BoE postponed the vote until the May 10 meeting because of cost concerns.
“People in my district are having a fit,” Carter said. “If we do this, we need to make sure that every step of it, every part of it is necessary. It is purely the cost … this will serve a very small part of our student population.”
Phase two would correct and bring up to code the stadium stands, existing playing fields and sports buildings that are too small. It also would adjust the BoE’s property lines, which currently exceed boundaries, and correct a field slope.
Home bleachers are in need of repair for safety and insurance reasons, Altman said. A quick fix that would last two years would run about $45,000 and still wouldn’t bring the structures up to code.
“That’s a Band-Aid; that’s not a permanent fix,” Altman said of the quick-fix bleacher repair. “That’s something that will last just a couple years to keep the insurance man happy. But as far as the code issue, it won’t touch those. There are other ones that are involved with these bleachers as far as handrails … it would cost more money to fix it (code issues) than to buy new bleachers.”
The May 10 vote also will force board members to decide whether they want to rotate the field to comply with the recommendation of the Georgia High School Sports Association to keep sunlight out of players’ eyes while they’re playing. The newly oriented field also would allow for emergency vehicles to pass into the stadium with ease.
“They’re able to bring them (the emergency vehicles) in from the Gen. Stewart entrance, but they basically come across the field and the person has to be taken down to the ambulance,” Deputy Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Conley said. “Under the master planning process of Olvey Field, we have taken into consideration the Georgia High School Sports Association, current codes, traffic flow, safety and current boundary lines.”
Because of the hefty costs and complaints from several board members’ district residents, the BoE decided to host a forum next month to address concerns. Architects from Altman + Barrett Architects will present information to the audience and board members will entertain any questions, concerns or comments residents may have, Conley said.
“The complaints are more perception and tradition … we’re going to spend a lot of money,” BoE member Carol Guyett said. “We’ve had this out in the community for a year. I’ve had five people talk to me … if it was fine and we could drive around and do all the things, I would say don’t mess with it because we’re used to it and it’s comfortable. But we’ve got to mess with it, so why not do it right? Why redo it and not do it the best you can? That’s my opinion and I’m not all warm and fuzzy about it, because it is change. But sometimes change is for the better.”