SHELBY — The future campus of Shelby City Schools may include a new athletics facility.
During a recent meeting of the Shelby Board of Education, a group of citizens stated they would like to discuss the future of W.W. Skiles Field in downtown Shelby. According to Superintendent Tim Tarvin, new facilities are already part of the discussions surrounding the new pre-kindergarten through eighth grade building in the works.
"Once we get an architect and engineer on board, we're going to have that firm take a good hard look at Skiles Field, what it would take to bring that up to code, and is it cost-effective?" Tarvin said. "Or, should our facilities be focused on this new campus with regard to the fact that we're always going to be expanding our athletic offerings to kids."
District officials first introduced the idea of constructing a new football stadium on the November 2017 ballot. The stadium issue was paired with the bond issue of building a new PreK-8 building that failed to pass three times.
However, in June the Shelby Board of Education financially authorized the “construction, furnishing and equipping of school facilities” for pre-K though 8th grade students that will hopefully be finished by August of 2022 at zero cost to Shelby taxpayers.
Through a financial package from the district, plus Rover Pipeline revenue, Shelby City Schools is able to contribute $19.3 million towards the total needed to build a new facility. The other part of the building will be paid for through the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) Classroom Facilities Assistance Program.
With the new school facility back on track, discussions about the future of Skiles have resurfaced.
"For 71 years, Skiles Field has served its purpose and we take great pride in what that field's history holds," said Aric Cornette, a Shelby parent. "However, the stadium has taken some beatings with floods and the basic elements of time. Safety and accessibility have become major concerns and that's why change is needed."
Cornette was joined by Sal Baker, Kyle Cooke and Scott Kurtzman on Monday, representing a group of concerned citizens that have been meeting periodically over the past few months to discuss the future of the football stadium. Cornette, whose son is a sophomore at Shelby and who once played on Skiles Field himself, said the 10 to 15 people in the group represent a mix of opinions and views.
"We feel there are some locations within our new school campus that are fit to accommodate the future of the football program," Cornette said. "As we're starting to improve everything within our community, we want to try to build up our stadium as well and get it up to standards with accessibility and safety."
The last ballot iteration of the stadium plan would have included a new turf football stadium on the north end of the Shelby campus, where the track currently resides. The new field would have been built in the center of the track, a concessions stand and bathroom facilities constructed, and 400 new paved parking spaces would have been added.
When the issue was first introduced in 2017, architects estimated a brand-new athletic facility would cost $2.8 million. An outside, independent agency inspected the football stadium and estimated the life expectancy of the stadium to be four to eight years.
"It's definitely something we'll have to address moving forward and figure out what we can do," said board president Scott Rose. "We've talked about it in the past to try to figure out. There's a big cost down there, so we have to figure out what we can do."
In December 2018, the Shelby Board of Education authorized the district to conduct a feasibility study for Skiles Field to determine the stadium's long- and short-term needs. That study has been put on hold as the district moves forward with construction of the new Pre-K through 8th grade building.
Tarvin said the district will be interviewing architectural engineering firms and construction managers for the new building project in the next two weeks.
"This group of citizens have genuine, legitimate concerns about what our athletics facilities look like in the future, not just two years from now but 20 years from now," Tarvin said. "I think this committee is going to gather information and the board at some point will certainly take into consideration what's in the best interest of our district, our kids, and our community."