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Brentwood officials discuss how to proceed with bleachers

| Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 5:48 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | For The South Hills Record
Brentwood Stadium bleachers are deteriorating to the point where council agreed to take steps to renovate the seating.

A “Keep Out” sign is prominently displayed at the entrance to the outer-most section of the aluminum bleachers at Brentwood's stadium.

Just below the grandstands — where the concrete noticeably is crumbling underneath the metal posts — a crisp, newly installed turf with vibrant blue end zones and a six-lane track welcomes athletes of all ages.

Proposed improvements are upcoming for the bleachers, press box, concession stand, restrooms and adjacent area.

“What we have now and what we will have in five years — it's going to be a lot different,” said council Vice President Marty Vickless, who chaired the borough's bleacher committee. “When you see this as a finished product, I think a lot of people are going to look at Brentwood differently.”

Brentwood Council, in a unanimous vote at its Oct. 22 meeting, approved a motion accepting the stadium master plan as it relates to the bleachers and press-box project prepared by Burgettstown-based J.T. Sauer & Associates and requested the company prepare construction documents for the project.

The construction documents would include plans for the bleachers, press box, fencing, a proposed plaza area, landscaping and demolition work — all anticipated to cost about $1.5 million, Councilman John Frombach said. This would include reducing the seating capacity at the stadium from 4,800 to between 2,200 and 2,400, Vickless said.

Council members reiterated that agreeing to have construction documents prepared is not necessarily approving every facet of the project, and there could be changes along the way.

“It's our hope that we can keep it as close to what we came up with as possible and have it at a cost that we can afford,” Vickless said.

The final costs will play a major role in what the project ultimately looks like, Vickless said.

Officials looked at making only minimal repairs to the concrete supports — for about $520,000 — that would add about 10 to 15 years on to the life of the bleachers that were constructed in about 1948 and renovated in 1991.

“The options are to spend $500,000 for a 10-year repair or spend more for something that's going to last much longer,” Zboyovsky said.

Plans initially were for the stadium bleachers to be upgraded as part of phase five of eight in the Brentwood Park improvement project, Vickless said.

“The whole idea of doing this was to be able to have a field to play on,” Vickless said. “They weren't the main concern.”

A major overhaul over the municipal park — initially expected to cost about $8 million — is under way with much help from the nonprofit Brentwood Park Initiative, multiple state and county grants, and borough funding.

Council members in April awarded $1.6 million in contracts for phases one and two of the Brentwood Park plans, which will include a six-lane 400-meter track and turf field for the stadium, a dek hockey rink, one tennis court, one basketball court and two baseball fields.

Safety issues prompted engineering studies, the formation of a council group to review use of the bleachers and even the closure of two sections of the grandstands earlier this year, Vickless said.

“Something legitimately has to be done,” he said. “We can rope off an area, but people can still get in.”

Engineering studies of the bleachers, completed by borough-retained Gateway Engineers, showed concrete deterioration, drainage issues and issues with some of the railings, Vickless and borough manager George Zboyovsky said.

“On the north side, it had nearly rusted through,” Zboyovsky said.

A structural study showed that repairs were necessary, Vickless said.

“It's become more urgent,” Vickless said.

A bleacher committee with council members Vickless, John Frombach and Pat Carnevale began meeting in the spring to review the possibility of overhauling the bleachers.

They met with school board members from the Brentwood Borough School District to review how often the stadium is used by district teams, attended games to talk with those using the facilities, and conversed with local organizations about their wants and needs at the stadium.

“We wanted to get their ideas,” Vickless said. “As we were doing this, there were other things that became evident.”

That included the condition of the restrooms and the need for accessible parking and seating at the stadium for people with disabilities, Vickless said. There also is congestion at the concession-stand area and the press box, and current bleachers are about 20 yards off from the center of the field after the new turf and track were laid and the field was shifted.

A design presented to Brentwood Council last week by James Sauer, president of J.T. Sauer & Associates, included plans to put the concession stands and new bathrooms into one building, create an observation deck and add landscaping.

An option to keep the existing press box and not do anything with the restrooms would cost about $1.2 million, Sauer said. Renovating the existing buildings would cost about $1.6 million.

The plan council members voted on last week would shift the bleachers and press box to be in line with the new field, Vickless said. They would align between the newly placed light posts, he said.

Seating also would be reduced — roughly in half — under the plans, Vickless said.

“We don't fill it. It's unnecessary seating,” he said of the stadium's current structure.

J.T. Sauer & Associates could come back with options for officials as early as November, Vickless said. Bids then could be sought in December, with construction starting in January, he said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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