$2 million renovation plan for Whitney Field

Cary Ashby • Mar 13, 2019 at 9:00 PM

Norwalk school board members and administrators heard a plan for renovating Whitney Field.

Marie Dowling, of Behnke Landscape Architecture, made a presentation to the school board Tuesday. Some of the athletic projects by Behnke include the Elyria and Morgana athletic complexes, North Royalton Stadium, the Kent State University baseball/field hockey facility and the Cuyahoga Heights High School turf field and all-weather track.

The board made no decisions on the three-phase Whitney Field project estimated to cost between $2 million and $2.4 million.

Dowling started her presentation by telling the board it’s always a good idea to take a step back and take a second look at one’s facilities.

The architect outlined the following observations about Whitney Field, the home of the Norwalk Truckers and St. Paul Flyers:

• “No comfortable way” to enter the St. Mary’s Street parking lot

• “Hidden” ticket booth

• No defined space between the Norwalk City Schools bus parking and public parking area

• Fences “feel like a prison” and aren’t welcoming

• Shotput space is on a hill and should be on a flat surface

• Amount of restrooms don’t meet the “current state codes” and don’t meet the minimum amount

“We felt the scoreboard was in decent shape,” said Dowling, who echoed the same thought about the home locker rooms. “The flag pole was past its prime.”

The renovation plans included:

• Expanding the parking lot, which would include adding asphalt, creating a drop-off area and a main entrance off St. Mary’s Street

“We are looking at reworking the entrance to the stadium,” Dowling said.

• Adding visitors’ restrooms to the visitors’ locker room space

• A “picnic area” near the concession stand

• Creating an accessible walking path around the entire track

• Moving the shotput and discus areas to the right corner near the St. Mary’s Street parking lot, which would allow the area parallel to Main Street to be graded

• Adding a barn near the bus parking area to make up for removing another building in the parking lot expansion

• Placing the marching band bleachers and flag pole in the St. Mary’s Street end zone

Phase I, estimated to cost between $875,000 and $975,000, is a turf field.

Dowling said the project would include proper drainage and a “shock pad” under the field, noting that test results indicate a shock pad lengthens the life of a field. Also, the architect said the field should have an eight- to 12-year lifespan and the district should plan on using a Gator-style vehicle to pull sweeper and groomer apparatuses.

“The sweeping can happen every day,” Dowling said. “Grooming doesn’t happen as much.”

Phase II, estimated to cost between $325,000 and $375,000, covers the track.

“It probably has three or so years left in it,” Dowling said about the current area.

The third phase, which could cost between $850,000 and $1 million, is for new walks, regrading and a drain-water management system.

“It all needs (to be) done,” said board member Steve Linder, who wants to wait until the district can afford the project.

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