HERMISTON — With the renovation designs for Hermiston High’s Kennison Field now available on the school district’s website, the project is entering a new phase for the public. Interim school district superintendent Wade Smith is looking for feedback on the proposed construction plan that would replace the current football field, track and bleacher system with a state-of-the-art facility.
Smith said the sooner people give their input, the faster the district can move toward blueprints and begin moving dirt on the project. Smith said the district wants the new field to be a true gem for Eastern Oregon.
The district is taking public comment online at www.hermiston.k12.or.us/krp where interested parties can send a message through the “feedback” button on the page. The designs for the project, as well as up-to-date fund raising numbers and further information, are also available on the site.
On Monday, the Hermiston School Board accepted the recommendation from the Kennison Field Renovation Committee to move forward with a “mid-level” design instead of the initial proposal that would have cost around $3.3 million. The estimate for new Kennison Field now tops out at about $4 million.
The differences between the basic facility that $3 million would have built and that which the district could create with $4 million are plenty, Smith said.
The track surface would improve to a level that the OSAA requires to host state meets with a synthetic shock-absorbing blend for better durability. The same would go for the playing field. Higher grade synthetic turf — large enough to accommodate football, soccer and lacrosse games — will lower risks of injury and warrant much less maintenence. A 70-foot by 10-foot press box would meet OSAA state-level event hosting requirements, equiped with a covered video hub on top for live streaming of events.
But the largest difference, said Linebacker’s Club representative Dennis Barnett, is the bleachers. The basic plans lacked sufficient amenities for senior and disabled citizens. The extra money would create better aisles and seating areas for wheelchair-bound fans. Doing this will open more doors to hosting OSAA state playoff games as well as bringing more out-of-town sporting events to the complex.
“This could be one of the key elements to helping make us the social and economical hub of Eastern Oregon,” Barnett said.
Smith and Barnett said raising another $700,000 is a substantial task, but should be doable — Phil Hamm, director of Oregon State University’s Hermiston Agriculture Research and Extension Center already helped close the gap with a non-state funded $25,000 donation at Thursday’s luncheon. The school district needs to have all its money raised by the end of the year to begin the construction.
Though Barnett said he’s confident the money will come, whether through grants, private donations or naming rights for the field, any shortcomings won’t put the project on hold.
“We will make it to $4 million, but if we don’t make it, certain things we’ll prioritize and take things off,” he said.
With further expansion anticipated in the future when the district can aquire land from the Umatilla County fairgrounds to the north, the extra upgrades will eventually be tacked on as the district shoots for even more improvements.
This set of renovations is scheduled to be completed by next fall with a grand opening ceremony planned for Hermiston’s first home football game of the season.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839.