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Freeport Area School Board considers 7 options for athletic complex

| Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014, 12:51 a.m.

An architectural firm on Wednesday presented Freeport Area School Board with seven options for a new or renovated athletic complex.

Three would upgrade the football field in Freeport. The others would move the field to the school complex off South Pike Road (Route 356) in Buffalo Township.

The board on Wednesday approved borrowing $18.4 million, a portion of which is designated for athletic facility upgrades.

Most of the money would be used to pay for the new $33 million middle school and fund building projects such as roof replacements.

About 70 people attended the presentation on the district's athletic complex options. VEBH Architects of Mt. Lebanon, the district's architect for the project, presented the possibilities.

As the district prepares to close the junior high and Kindergarten Center in Freeport, it's looking at whether to keep the football field in the borough or move it to the high school/middle school complex.

Should the district decide to keep the field in Freeport, it will need a fieldhouse because the school facilities will no longer be available.

The options include:

• Demolish the junior high in Freeport and make a parking lot, build a fieldhouse and put in new bleachers. Refurbish the football and baseball fields. Cost: $4.7 million.

• Demolish a portion of the junior high for a parking area and repurpose the cafeteria for a fieldhouse. This option includes new bleachers and upgrading the football and baseball fields. Cost: $4.4 million.

• Reorient the football field so that it will be large enough to accommodate a soccer field. Demolish the junior high for parking and build a new fieldhouse. The baseball field would move to the high school complex. Cost: $5.2 million.

• Put a football/soccer field within the existing high school track and create a fenced-in stadium with a new fieldhouse. This would require renovating the track. The softball and soccer fields would remain at their location near the high school. Cost: $4.5 million.

• Build a football/soccer stadium on the existing soccer field. The field would be perpendicular to the track. The softball field, and possibly the baseball field, would move behind the new middle school. Cost: $3.8 million.

• Construct a north-south facing football/soccer stadium with a fieldhouse diagonally behind the middle school. Cost: $4.1 million.

• Construct an east-west facing football/soccer stadium with a fieldhouse behind and parallel to the middle school. This would include optional practice fields adjacent to the stadium. Cost: $4 million.

The architects designed all the fields with synthetic turf, although the board will have the option of using grass.

Residents who commented were split on whether to move the football field.

“I think that the field needs to stay in Freeport,” said Jeannie Mazurowski, of Freeport. “It is a historical spot, and I think the use of the cafeteria would be great because our school district does have to do something with the junior high.”

Mike Furer, also of Freeport, agreed.

“I think we have a very unique setting and we should take pride in it,” he said. “I think coming down the hill and seeing the lights and seeing the helmets is much more exciting than the field back here (at the high school).”

However, others said that trying to transporting their kids from the high school to the field in Freeport gets chaotic at times. They favor having everything in one spot.

“I've tried to get kids back and forth to different fields for practice, it's not easy, it takes a lot of cooperation with other parents,” said Joe Romancheck of Buffalo Township. “With everything at one campus setting, it's a lot safer and it's a lot easier on all the parents who are trying to get their kids up there.”

Ken Kemmer of Buffalo Township said he prefers any of the options that move the football field to the high school complex.

“I just think it's more cost-effective,” he said. “Almost every school district around has everything at their campuses; you don't have to travel outside.”

Board President Dan Lucovich stressed the board hasn't made any decisions. He noted that the majority, about 62 percent, of the district's students live in Buffalo Township.

“We want to do what's best for our students,” he said. “Whatever decision we make it's going to be tough. It is tradition, and it is Freeport.”

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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