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Norton school officials seeking community input on new stadium project

11/29/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

NORTON — Norton High School officials have decided to move forward with a new stadium project, and now those officials are in the process of finding out how to make that new stadium fit the needs of the community.

“We certainly have a need and we intend to move forward with a new stadium,” said Superintendent David Dunn. “Over the past five or six years, which is my tenure and what I can speak to, we have been very responsible financially, and we will approach this project the same way. We will be looking to build an appropriate stadium to fill the needs of our students.”

Dunn said the school’s current stadium, which is located on South Cleveland-Massillon Road, is approximately 70 years old.

“It has been around for a long time,” he said. “The year that I’ve heard is somewhere in the ’40s.”

Norton High School Principal Ryan Shanor said the project is “certainly in just the beginning stages.”

“You can do this sort of thing two ways,” he said. “You can get all of your budgets and your timelines together and then present it to the public, but you do that at the risk of people from the community not having the input that they should. Or you can do what we’re doing. We had our initial meeting on Nov. 8, where we invited about 40 people who we felt would have relevant information for us and people we needed to get on board right away — including a mix of coaches, staff members, youth leaders, band parents and people of that nature. Then we had a second meeting Monday night [Nov. 19], where we presented what we had to the public. We chose to do it that way because it was us putting it out there that we were doing it, then inviting anyone that wanted to be part of it as we move forward.”

Shanor said those meetings are helping to round the project into shape.

“We know where we want it to be and, from a general standpoint, what we want,” he said. “It’s going to basically go where our current track is.”

Regarding a potential cost estimate, Shanor said “it’s safe to say it’s a million-dollar project.”

“It’s not like we’re just refurbishing. We’re going to be starting from scratch, so beyond the costs for permits and things like that, one of the first things we’ll need to do is run sewer and water up there,” he said. “The total cost is probably going to be in the $3.5 million to $4.5 million range. What we are planning on doing is building a basic, general stadium, and then all the additional bells and whistles would come from a fundraising effort that a subcommittee is putting in place. For instance, if we, as a committee, decide we need to have artificial turf or fancy scoreboards or fancy entrances, all that sort of stuff would come from a fundraising effort. We want to get to the point where we’d have a weight room, a field house, that sort of thing up there. That would come through a fundraising effort.”

Dunn said a precise cost estimate won’t be available until more questions are answered about what the project will entail.

“I think, at a minimum, the stadium needs to become a facility that our band, our football team, our soccer team and our track team can take full advantage of,” he said. “We want to make sure we meet the needs of at least those groups and provide a facility that the community can be proud of. And I would think that one of the things that will come up is to make sure that there is some value for our youth sports program.”

According to Dunn, the project will not require “any additional tax dollars.”

“There is no intent to do a levy,” he said. “It will be a combination of money that can be raised — there will be a significant sponsorship and fund-raising campaign as part of this project — and then we can borrow money off our existing permanent improvement dollars. The bottom line answer is that it will be paid for with permanent improvement money and money that we can raise.”

Dunn said the most important thing is for the new stadium “to be a reflection of the needs of the community.”

“That’s why we had the meeting on Monday [Nov. 19],” he said. “One of the things we really emphasize is listening to what the community wants.”

Shanor added that more public meetings will be scheduled in the future.

“This is definitely not something that we’re going to just create and then do it and everyone can just see it when it’s done. There’s nothing secretive about this project, and we want as much input as possible as we go through it,” he said. “This is something for the community. When we move forward, we want this to be something the community can use and be proud of.”

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