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MAHS mini-stadium with synthetic field likely on track for fall 2020

Posted 10/9/19

By Laura Hayes

and Phyllis Zimmerman

Special to the Press & Journal

Middletown Area School District’s synthetic turf mini-stadium might be ready …

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MAHS mini-stadium with synthetic field likely on track for fall 2020


By Laura Hayes

and Phyllis Zimmerman

Special to the Press & Journal

Middletown Area School District’s synthetic turf mini-stadium might be ready for the 2020-2021 school year, despite some paperwork hold-ups.

“The intent is to wrap things up and go out to bid over the winter months, under construction as soon as the weather breaks in the spring and have it completed and ready for use by next school year,” project engineer Holly Evans said at the Lower Swatara Board of Commissioners meeting Oct. 2.

Evans said the plan is awaiting approval by the Dauphin County Conservation District, but she noted that it should be completed soon. Two bid options for the project will be presented to Middletown Area School Board on Oct. 15.

MASD provided an update on the project, which calls for building a 500-seat mini-stadium in front of the high school. In May, planners cited a tentative completion date of August 2020.

The stadium and athletic amenities facility will be located in an area in front of the high school now occupied by grass soccer fields, with the athletic building situated adjacent to the stadium. The field would be used by soccer, field hockey, youth and non-varsity football teams along with physical education classes and band practice. The football team will continue to play at War Memorial Field.

“Given the fact that we only have one primary sporting field to use right now, this allows us to share a lot of the stuff” and not be on War Memorial, Evans said during the Oct. 2 Lower Swatara meeting

“It’s going to be a great facility. Unfortunately, it’s not going to be done before my kid graduates, but it will be a nice project,” Vice President Todd Truntz said.

During the Sept. 17 Middletown school board meeting, project architect Dave Horn, of Architerra, had cautioned that the project could be delayed because of an ongoing paperwork issue.

Horn told the school board that the project could be delayed if the district doesn’t receive additional paperwork it needs soon from the Dauphin County Conservation District and the Federal Aviation Administration, necessary because of its proximity to Harrisburg International Airport.

Engineers first filed an application for a required FAA permit for the project May 18. The federal agency replied May 21, but it wasn’t quite what engineers had expected.

The agency told the district it needed to file new paperwork for each of the projects’ four light poles on a separate basis. Although the FAA was due to respond within 45 days, the district still hadn’t received anything, Horn said.

“Today it’s been 76 days and there’s still no decision (from the FAA),” Horn said Sept. 17. “It’s an item beyond our control. It won’t impact our bid date, but if they want to change things later, we would have to do a change order.”

The district also didn’t receive a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit from the Dauphin County Conservation District by Oct. 1, according to MASD communications specialist Jody Zorbaugh.

The DCCD scheduled a final inspection for Oct. 11.

The DCCD is responsible for overseeing soil movement in the county, Horn said.

To make matters more complicated, the agency won’t issue a NPDES permit for the district’s stadium project until a previous permit for the high school project is officially terminated. The latter document is pending.

“If we don’t hear from (the DCCD) in another half-month, then everything would be pushed back. Probably now we would advertise for bids around Thanksgiving and open bids at the start of the new year. Maybe then we’d start construction in February or March. … That’s the reality of what we’re looking at, and it’s the fault of no one in this room,” Horn said.

The new maintenance/storage facility will replace an aged structure now in use behind the high school between the track and baseball field, according to district officials. The building is used to store outdoor athletic equipment.

Horn noted in September that the project cost estimates now total around $3.7 million, an increase of more than $500,000 from 2018.

The increase is attributed in part to adding a second parking lot to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, additional site lighting related to ADA parking, two bus drop-off areas, new Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection water filtration requirements, and several other factors.

According to Evans, the district will add 10 ADA parking spaces next to the field and construct a drop-off area.

According to Evans, all of the stormwater is being managed through an underground stormwater detention basin.

“Once they are filled with water and are retaining water, how does the water escape from the retention facility?” Commissioner Mike Davies asked.

Evans explained that the basin had an outlet that released the water at a controlled rate. The field will be able to handle a 100-year storm, she said.