The Pit at Minden High School is safe following the vote of the Webster Parish School Board Tuesday.
In a special meeting, board members voted in favor of proceeding with the plans to demolish the grandstands and rebuild as recommended by the District 6 Committee. Architect Perry Watson, with Yeager, Watson and Associates, Inc., says the grandstands will be rebuilt to 214 feet, one and a half feet above floodplain stage at 210 feet to specification and to meet building codes.
“The football field is above floodplain level, except for the corner it floods, which is a small southwest corner,” he said. “The floodplain level is listed at 210 feet. We’re going to bring the understory of the stands up to 214 feet.”
Concerns about flood insurance arose as the school board currently does not have flood insurance on the stadium. District 6 Board Member John Madden raised the concern, even though he says it wouldn’t affect the outcome of the vote.
“I hope I’m wrong about this, but I heard that if it’s inside a floodplain map, it has to have flood insurance,” Madden said. “I just heard that we are absolutely going to have to buy flood insurance.”
Madden asked Maintenance Supervisor Buster Flowers to look into the matter for the purposes of clarification.
“That was one of the things we brought up with FEMA, that in the long-term plan we were going to bring it up higher than the floodplain,” Flowers said. “That’s one of the things they accepted in the project worksheet. If we’re going to get any money from FEMA, it’s got to be brought up.”
The total cost of the project is roughly $2.2 million, with about 75 percent of that, or $1.4 million, paid for by FEMA if they accept the project. Watson explained in his Opinion of Probable Cost the remaining $469,000, or 25 percent would be paid for by the school board.
The cost of raising the football field above floodplain, re-grassing, new goal posts and subsurface perimeter pipe/catch basin drainage will cost the school board about $350,000, with an additional $250,000 for contingencies.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Rawls says $3 million is available from the District 6 half cent sales tax. When the question came up about that money going towards the construction projects at J.A. Phillips Middle School and Webster Junior High School, Rawls says that $3 million will not be used for that project. The bond issue will absorb those costs. The $3 million was originally set to be used for future elementary school projects, but with sales tax collections on the decline, those will likely be put on hold.
Questions also arose about clarifications in what FEMA will cover 100 percent. Flowers explained temporary costs associated with the continued operations of the football season would be covered 100 percent. Those include the rental and installation of temporary bleachers, portable restrooms, temporary trailers for the concession stand, a temporary press box and the erection of a safety fence around the current structure to keep children from playing under the grandstands. It will also cover the cost of emergency cleanup following the flood. That is Category B.
The construction of the new grandstands will fall under Category G, or the community revitalization category.