The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 9, 2013

Another phase in Conneaut sports complex ready for launch

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — Another phase in Conneaut’s ambitious scholastic sports complex has been unveiled to the public.

This week a sign was erected along Stadium Avenue announcing the Ricaurte Tennis Park, to be built directly south of the football stadium. But don’t expect construction to start anytime soon, cautioned Kent Houston, Conneaut Area City Schools superintendent. While some money for the work is in hand, more is needed to finance the five-court facility, he said. Work will not begin until the entire project cost is in hand, Houston said.

“We have a generous donation to put us well on the way,” he said.

In May, school officials said $250,000 had been raised for a tennis court project expected to cost an estimated $600,000.

The courts represent the latest phase of a sports complex funded primarily through private donations. The CARE for Kids Committee is coordinating the creation of the complex, dubbed SPARC (Social Place for Athletics, Recreation and Community). So far, new bleachers, pressbox and multi-use building for the Conneaut High School football field and a $650,000 track/field layout opposite the stadium on Maple Avenue have resulted from the project.

The track/field complex is taking shape on several acres of land donated to the district a few years ago. This summer, a long-vacant commercial building on the property was demolished as a prelude to construction of an eight-lane, 400-meter track and other amenities.

Recent cold, wet weather has frustrated attempts to finalize the all-weather treatment to given the asphalt-based track, Houston said. Several layers of a rubber-like substance are traditionally applied, but the cold, damp climate has allowed technicians to apply only two coats so far, he said.

To do the job right, a series of dry days with temperatures in the 50s is needed to finish the task. That kind of weather isn’t expected for awhile, so work has been shut down, Houston said. He cautioned the track may not be ready in time for the start of the  2014 Spartan track season.

“Track starts awfully early,” Houston said.