Skyline’s new stadium delayed

May 2, 2013

By Lillian O'Rorke

New: May 2, 1:39 p.m.

Skyline High School will not be getting a new stadium this summer.

The nearly $6.5 million stadium upgrade, which was part of the $219.2 million bond measure approved by voters in April 2012, was originally slated to begin this summer and be completed as early as this fall. Jake Kuper, the district’s chief financial officer, announced at the April 24 Issaquah School Board meeting that the project is being pushed back by at least one year. The reason, he said, is because of the six to eight months it will take for the district to receive a site-development permit.

“We believe, given the excavation that is needed for a cantilever roof system or a post and beam system, we would most likely not meet the threshold of the city of Sammamish on a simple building permit,” Kuper said.

This was not the only change. Instead of using a mixed contract approach, as originally planned, Kuper said the district is now going to bundle the entire project for a competitive bid.

The original design included a cantilever roof, which was a big must for members of the community because it doesn’t use view-obstructing support poles in the middle of the seating. It also included plans for cheaper aluminum seating, which was not well received by football boosters, Skyline Gridiron Club.

Now, Kuper said, the district wants to gather bid alternates for a cantilever and for a traditional post and beam roof system, as well as concrete seating.

“Those will all be considered, put in the package as bid alternates,” he said. “So that if we do need to make trade-offs on the total $6.5 million project budget, we can do so with accurate pricing in hand.”

Members of the Gridiron Club, including its president Pam Thorsen, were part of a committee of community representatives and Skyline staff and coaches that has been discussing the topic since July. During the April 24 board meeting, Thorsen said that while she was pleasantly surprised by Kuper’s announcement, the club had felt it was being shut out of the process and ignored.

“In my book, that was kind of like bullying the citizens and the taxpayers, instead of embracing knowledgeable and willing community members that wanted to help,” she said. “We don’t mind waiting. We’ve been here 17 years in the rain. We believe the timeline now that he has outlined will give us the time to allow us to build a project like the community wants, that is doable within budget.”

In its own design, the Gridiron Club, has included a cantilever roof, more storage and concrete base with aluminium seats. In a five-page letter to the board, the club said that it also hopes the new stadium will have at least 4,000 seats, which is the minimum requirement for hosting tournaments.

The club is also asking that the district use a design-build approach, which it believes could amount to around $1 million in savings.

“We should at least take the time to look at design-build. You will probably save money,” said Mike Shin, a Skyline parent. “Look at all the options and not just spend it on design and then you can’t make any changes.”

At the April 24 meeting, Shin and Thorsen were accompanied by around 30 members of the Skyline community, including Art Francis.

“We are asking that you consider what we bring to you because we think we can bring to you exceptional guidance of what the community needs. It’s not what we want, it’s what we need,” Francis said. “We just want you to consider what we want. We think its fair; we supported you when you came to us. We hope now that you will recommit to those words and take our advice.”

With the project now being delayed by at least one year, the district said it does not yet have an estimate for when construction will begin.

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