ST. CLOUD - New renovation designs and a fundraising plan with the goal of bringing varsity sports back to Clark Field were revealed Thursday morning.

Members present from the District 742 school board remain on the fence with the plan.

The Friends of Clark Field presented the proposal to the District 742 Finance Committee. Renovations would come in two phases and would cost an estimated $675,000. The group says they will be responsible for community fundraising for the project. District 742 would not be responsible for any renovation costs. They will only be restoring water and electricity to the field at an estimated cost of $20,200. The field is being maintained by the district for phy-ed classes and non-varsity sports.

During the meeting, architectural drawings of the proposed renovation (Seen above and below) were provided by Miller Architects.

The first phase would involve a $375,000 fundraising effort. The sinking west bleachers would be demolished, new sod would be put in, the playing surface would be moved 30 feet to the west and new block retaining walls would be put in.

Friends of Clark Field say funds for phase one would need to be secured by June 1st to meet their goal of having varsity sports return to the field by September 2016.

Phase two would require an additional $300,000 fundraising effort. The retaining walls would be expanded to allow hillside seating on the west side, new field lighting and a new scoreboard would be installed, along with utilities for future restrooms and concessions.

Money for phase two would need to be secured by August 1st in order to have field lighting installed for hosting night games.

The group says a fundraising team has been established, which will start meeting if they receive final approval from the school board.

However, school board members questioned the plan heavily when it was presented. The long term goal for the district remains building a new Tech High School on 33rd Street South. Superintendent Willie Jett said they would have all of their athletic fields and activities on the new campus.

Board Member Al Dahlgren said he was concerned the renovations would cause the public to have a negative perception that the district was wasting money on Clark Field when they move into a new high school, even if the money was separately raised by the Friends of Clark Field.

Finance Chair Jerry Von Korff says he wants a more comprehensive plan and further commitment from the city to take over the field in the future. The board wants written commitment from city government and leaders.

Kevin Januszewski, Executive Director of Business Services for the district, said the proposed timeline to have varsity sports return by September would also be tight to meet. Construction would need to start by June 1st to be done in time.

Ruth Kaczor with Friends of Clark Field says they're hoping the item will be on the upcoming April 28th School Board agenda for discussion. She will be meeting with Mayor Dave Kleis on Thursday afternoon. The groups will coordinate with Jett to decide on how to move forward.


(Photo: Miller Architects and Builders)
(Photo: Miller Architects and Builders)