The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 28, 2013

Conneaut sports complex to be studied by planners

Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — Whenever a benefactor decides to give a helping hand to Conneaut’s student athletes, the Conneaut Area City Schools district wants to be ready to act.

At a May 15 meeting, the city’s Planning Commission will get a glimpse of tentative plans for a sports complex that would flank Conneaut High School’s football stadium at Maple and Stadium avenues. The meeting wasn’t sought because new construction is imminent — that hinges on the arrival of money, said Superintendent Kent Houston. Instead, the district wants to be ready to roll should an influx of cash sudden materialize, and that means getting as much city approval in advance as possible, he said.

“We want to get all our ducks in a row,” he said Friday. “If something happens, it will happen quickly.”

City planners will examine the district’s plans for a vacant factory it received as a gift several years ago, Houston said. The Eighmy building sits on land opposite the stadium where the district one day hopes to put a track/field site and accessory structures. The Eighmy building would be demolished to make room for the proposed improvements on the north side of Maple Avenue, officials have said.

The concept is part of a years-old program to upgrade the facilities available to Conneaut students and residents. The CARE for Kids committee, formed in 2008 to examine the problem, came up with a concept dubbed Social Place for Athletics, Recreation and Community. At the time, SPARC envisioned a revamped football stadium, the track/field facility and tennis court immediately south of the stadium, on the site of the former West Main Elementary School.

So far, much of the football field portion of the plan has become reality, with new bleachers and a press box in place. Coming this year is a new concession stand/rest room facility. With the cooperation of the city, water and sewer lines for the little building were put in place last year while money for construction was firmed up.

“The city has been very helpful,” Cris Newcomb, Board of Education president, said Friday.

Donations factor heavily into the future of SPARC, officials said. More of the complex will be built when funding is in hand, school officials emphasized. Next month’s meeting with the Planning Commission does not mean additional improvements are imminent, Newcomb said.

“We’ve got to sit down as a board and discuss further (construction),” he said.