Thursday, September 23, 2004

Kings school officials tackle new stadium in a lean year

By Michael D. Clark
Enquirer staff writer

DEERFIELD TWP. - The clock is ticking for Kings school sports and their temporary stay at Galbreath Field, forcing school officials to scramble in hopes of building a new stadium before the beginning of next football season.

Earlier this week, Kings school officials revealed details about the type of stadium they want and a timetable for the initial phase of construction approval.

The Warren County school system lost its popular George E. King Stadium, which was used by Kings Junior and Senior High School football, track and soccer teams and marching band, because of a $2 million Environmental Protection Agency removal of toxic lead from the soil.

The cleanup of lead debris left from an abandoned shooting range included leveling the baseball and softball fields at the Columbia Road campus.

Since the lead was discovered in August 2003, Kings has played football at nearby Galbreath Field under a loan agreement, but that stadium will be torn down after this season by its private owners.

Despite being in the middle of one of the most contentious school-levy campaigns in the 3,800-student district's history, school officials are now forced to hastily pursue building a new stadium. The estimated $4.1 million stadium, which would include a synthetic-turf playing surface, would be paid for largely by private financing with some assistance from taxpayers, officials say.

Next year, voters will be asked to renew a permanent improvement levy that would help cover building costs with no increase in school taxes for residents.

"The timing is unfortunate in that we are having to deal with a facility issue now at the same time we are dealing with getting a new operating levy," said Kings Board of Education member Roger Jones, referring to the 4.9-mill continuing levy voters will see on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $150 more annually in school property taxes.

Officials have stressed that the construction project is not tied to the proposed levy, which would raise money to fund only operation of the schools, not construction.

Kings Athletic Director Matthew Koenig said revenue from renting the field to community teams would offset the costs.

Bids on the stadium are due by Oct. 13, and the board is expected to vote on a contract by Oct. 19.


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