Greenfield - Among the school improvements projects approved this week by the Greenfield School Board, a fire hydrant that kids have been bumping into for years on the Elmdale Elementary School playground will finally be moved and the high school's athletic fields should soon be up to snuff.
In all, the 13 projects, along with a major proposed truck purchase, could cost up to $1 million, all of which is already budgeted. Depending on the actual bids, there may be enough money to get them all done in the next three months, said Ronald Nortier, interim director of business services.
Poorly placed hydrant
Moving the fire hydrant on the Elmdale playground has come up as a budget item for several years, but there were always more critical things to spend money on.
Still, School Board member Cathy Walsh said, "It must really be an annoyance (for the children) for it to keep coming up."
Kids concentrating on catching fly balls sometimes bump into the posts installed to keep kids away from the hydrant or into the hydrant itself, said Todd Bugnacki, director of educational services for kindergarten through eighth grade. Snow plows also have to plow around it, he said.
Moving the hydrant and generally fixing up the Elmdale playground may have to be split into two parts because of the costs. One part could be done in the fall with money from the district's 2013-14 budget, Nortier said, though officials hope all the work can be done in three months.
High school fields
The high school athletic field improvements will be welcomed, especially by the track and soccer teams.
"We're trying to save the fields," said Nortier. "A lot of money went into those."
The problem is noticeable, he added after the meeting. "They are starting to show neglect," Nortier said.
Despite the fairly recent widening of the running track from six to eight lanes, no varsity meets have been held there, although younger teams have competed on it. Those scheduling varsity meets usually pick the track at the other schools because they are sometimes better equipped and don't have the potential safety hazard that the Greenfield track does, said David Ewald, interim superintendent.
Because a short retaining wall is near enough for runners to stumble into if they miss their footing at the baton passing, Ewald said the track is "very, very dangerous."
The solution will be to take the retaining wall down and smooth the hill back so a wall isn't needed, Nortier explained after the meeting.
Various athletic fields will be treated - aerated, overseeded and fertilized, depending on their condition.
The soccer field is in especially bad shape because the grass didn't take hold three years ago when it was laid down, Nortier said. It was not as mature as expected when the season started and is now quite dug up from the cleats and players running on it.
The field will be worked on this spring and the hope is that it will be ready for play this fall. If not, options will have to be discussed, he said.
The softball diamond at the school will be rehabilitated, as well. It's a timely project, because this is the last year the diamond in Konkel Park will be available, he said. Also, because of new WIAA rules, the teams cannot play on a field with a temporary fence.
In conjunction with the field work, the school will create a ramp down the hill to the diamond or some kind of improved handicapped access, Nortier said.
Three of the 13 projects are already under way - replacing boilers and the chiller all at the middle school and inspecting the roofs at all the buildings.
The other projects likely to be done in the next three months include: repairing the northwest wall section of the Maple Grove Elementary School to stop water seepage, finishing Middle School ceiling replacement in remaining classrooms, filling cracks in asphalt districtwide, repainting northwest overhangs at Edgewood Elementary, main parking lot repairs and carpet and floor repair, all at Elmdale.
The district has $150,000 left over from the high school referendum of several years ago, and Nortier said the plan is to use it for roof work.
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