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Project to affect school events

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Thursday, Feb. 8, 2001

Renovation of the Thomas Jefferson High School stadium in Jefferson Hills will displace this year's graduation and the start of the fall sports season.

Moving graduation and finding new venues for several football and soccer games will require 'an awful lot of planning,' said Myles Stepanovich, superintendent of the West Jefferson Hills School District.

The $5.1 million project at the stadium includes a new three-level field house, bleachers, track, field surface, concession stand and press box. Contracts could be awarded in March or April with work scheduled to begin around May 1.

The project architect, Kevin Hayes, president of Hayes Design Group Architects, told five of the nine school board members attending a special meeting Tuesday night that crews will need unrestricted access to the stadium for work to be completed by Oct. 1. Even if graduation could be held at the stadium, Hayes said he was uncertain how presentable it would be.

Stepanovich said graduation could be moved to the high school gymnasium, but it would accommodate only about a third of the normal attendance. An off-campus venue, such as the Community College of Allegheny County campus in West Mifflin, also is under consideration.

The date of graduation, tentatively scheduled for June 7, also may be changed.

No athletic events could be held at the stadium until Oct. 1, Hayes said.

Stepanovich said three varsity and three junior varsity football games would be affected, along with two or three ninth-grade football games, two or three seventh- and eighth-grade football games and six to seven boys and girls soccer games.

'We have a lot of work to do rescheduling all this,' Stepanovich said. 'We're starting to look at what our options are.'

The football games could be played away or at neutral sites, Stepanovich said. The soccer games could be played at the opposing school, a neutral site or on the practice field. New locations also would have to be found for practices.

Hayes also presented several options that would reduce the cost of the project by $350,000. However, the school board members attending did not express interest in any of them.

The options included saving $200,000 by reducing the track from eight lanes to six, $125,000 by removing certain features from the field house and $25,000 by removing a concrete walkway around part of the track.

The board did agree to seek proposals for a project manager to oversee the work and represent the district on site.

The board also agreed with Hayes that a project to create an entrance to the high school from Wakefield Drive be separated from the stadium renovation. Leaving the projects connected, he said, would delay work at the stadium.

The only access to the high school is currently from Old Clairton Road.

Brian C. Rittmeyer can be reached at brittmeyer@tribweb.com or at (412) 306-4540.

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