Calera High School proposes renovation plan

In a series of meetings with city leaders and parents, Richard Bishop, Calera High School principal, posed a question. “Is our community prepared to face the growth of our athletic community?”

Concerns about meeting the demands of anticipated high school re-classification caused Bishop to step back and look at the current plan for our athletic facilities. Presently we are a Class 4A school, but enrollment studies project Calera will move to Class 5A within five years, then Class 6A by 2020.

“It is my recommendation we adjust the original plan for our athletic facility,” Bishop said. “I believe renovations to Ricky Cairns Stadium, making it a facility used 24/7, 365 days a year, is a better use of funds for meeting the athletic needs of our community.”

The visionary plan, formed by school administration and the band and athletic departments, is to replace the planned football practice facility and track in the new park with two additional multi-purpose fields. The fields can be used for adult softball, high school softball, youth baseball and soccer or remain open to meet the greatest need among the sports.

To increase playability, the plan proposes replacing the natural grass with a synthetic playing surface.

“It’s a battle to keep a consistent playing surface with five varsity, four junior varsity and four middle school games,” Bishop stated. “In addition to school use, we have community football games and soccer matches putting wear on the field.”

City workers constantly mow, water, fertilize, poison, top dress, aerate, re-seed and/or paint the field for football or soccer. Maintenance required for a synthetic playing surface is cleaning and disinfecting twice a year.

The greatest advantage to the synthetic surface is its multi-functional use, i.e. physical education, band practice and competition, and baseball and softball practice. Play will not wear out the field and it is environment-friendly and safer than natural grass.

The proposal includes new concession and restroom facilities, resurfacing the existing track and adding new visitor bleachers.

The upgrades would enable Calera to continue hosting playoff games. Current stadium seating is 3,500; 4,000 seats are needed for 5A and 4,500 for 6A.

The renovation plan was met with favorable opinions and comments at the meetings. It will be presented to the park board in hopes they will seek council approval to implement changes to the original plan.

The upgrade proposal can be viewed on the school website, Shelbyed.k12.al.us/schools/cahs/index.htm.

Mollie Brown is the new community columnist for Calera. She can be reached at dmjhb1@bellsouth.net.