By Lee Weyhrich
The Clay City Council is moving forward with plans to upgrade the field at Clay-Chalkville High School’s Cougar Stadium.
The city council last week voted to enter into a facilities use agreement with the Jefferson County Board of Education, in which the city would provide up to $265,000 — roughly half the cost of new field turf — in exchange for usage of all school sports facilities for the next 15 years.
“We reached out to the Jefferson County Board (of Education), and they are very receptive to reaching some sort of intergovernmental agreement where the city of Clay Park and Rec would have the next first option behind the high school, middle school, elementary school and Jefferson County sports,” Clay-Chalkville head football coach Jerry Hood said.
Just fixing the existing field would cost between $350,000 and $400,000, Hood said. For around $200,000 more an artificial turf can be installed with a 10-year warranty, and the capability to drain 14,000 gallons per minute with an included underground drainage system.
This is the same type of field used by Jacksonville State University and Lincoln High School, and UAB will soon be installing two fields of this type, Hood said.
The city would also save on various rental fees. Through the previous agreement, city officials could request the usage of school facilities, such as gyms and fields, a sometimes time-consuming task. The city was also responsible for paying rent for the use of those facilities. Councilman Kevin Small estimates that the city would save more than $150,000 in fees from basketball alone by entering into this agreement. This means that, for the city, a new field could pay for itself in less than two years. The city would still be responsible for the electricity used for events.
If everything is approved, the school board will have a bid meeting May 20, with bids for work opening May 27, Hood said. The field could be completed by Aug. 11, or as early as 40 days after groundbreaking, if conditions allow.
In other Clay news, the city allocated more than $52,000 to be divided equally among the three Clay-area schools from revenue acquired through the city’s additional sales tax. The city last year approved a two-cent sales tax increase. City Manager Ronnie Dixon said the funds may be used for any items of “direct student benefit.”