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Field house or expanded gym future possibilities for Pine-Richland athletics

| Monday, Aug. 8, 2016, 7:57 p.m.
Rendering shows what a converted Pine-Richland High School gym would look like, with 1,500 seats.
Rendering shows what a converted Pine-Richland High School gym would look like, with 1,500 seats.

A $14 million field house for multiple sports — partly paid for by sponsors — tops a new list of proposed projects to improve athletic facilities in the Pine-Richland School District.

Or the district could spend $2.8 million to renovate and add 500 seats to the high school's main gym, then convert the school's second gym, known as the Green Gym, into a fitness center.

Other proposed improvements include private showers in sports teams' locker rooms, and a community walking track around an expanded Santacroce athletic field at Richland Elementary School.

All are among long-range, possible capital improvement projects suggested by VEBH Architects of Mt. Lebanon to help accommodate the school district's increased number of athletic teams and students' participation in sports.

The school board hired VEBH Architects in January to conduct a study of the district's athletic facilities and future needs by gathering input from administrators, trainers, coaches and people at public meetings held in April and June.

Architect Daniel Engen of VEBH Architects presented the resulting 43-page Pine-Richland Athletic Facilities Master Plan at a meeting of the Pine Richland School Board's finance and building and grounds committees on Aug. 4 at the high school.

“It represents one set of options,” Engen said about the plan. “It is designed to be a foundation for what comes next.”

The master plan suggests projects for completion within the next 10 years on the campuses of Richland Elementary, Pine-Richland Middle and Pine Richland High schools, plus, renovations within the high school and the high school's stadium.

“It should be noted that many potential options exist and no specific recommendation is being made at this time,” according to the meeting's printed agenda. “The presentation serves as a foundation for future discussion and long-range planning.”

Another joint meeting of the school board's finance and building and grounds committees tentatively is set for 6 p.m. Aug. 22 at the high school for a discussion of how the suggested capital improvements might be funded.

“The reality is that this is a big puzzle,” said Brian Miller, superintendent of Pine-Richland School District. “This allows us to have better funding discussions,” Miller said about the master plan.

Miller attended the Aug. 4 meeting with Michael Pasquinelli, assistant superintendent.

Pasquinelli said the school district would not consider building the proposed field house with just tax dollars. “This is definitely something we would want to partner with an outside organization,” he said.

VEBH Architects' master plan proposes to put the two-story field house on the north side of the parking lot that is on the east side of Pine-Richland Middle School.

“If there is not an appetite for a private partnership, we don't see that as a viable option,” Miller said about the proposed field house.

“We have a couple years to determine the viability of that project.”

Since 1993, the number of athletic teams available for seventh- through 12th-graders in the Pine-Richland School District has grown from 25 to 48, according to VEBH Architects' study.

Deborah Deasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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