$3.15 million contract awarded for new Unicoi County stadium

Sue Guinn Legg • Oct 29, 2019 at 10:30 PM

ERWIN — Unicoi County’s 86-year-old high school football stadium is in its last season.

On Tuesday, the Unicoi County Board of Education awarded a $3.15 million contract for the demolition and reconstruction of Gentry Stadium to Preston Construction, the low bidder on the project. A representative for the company told the board last week the work could begin as early as December.

Tuesday’s vote followed two specially called work sessions in which $170,900 in design features were trimmed from the original plans for the stadium, including nearly $100,000 for replacement of the football field and a new irrigation system beneath it.

Also cut from the plans were:

• $25,000 for a walkway from the field house to the adjacent practice field;

• $13,870 for trees and other landscaping elements the board members suggested could be installed by the high school’s agriculture students;

• $15,200 for 120 fixed-back stadium seats cut from initial plans for 300 of the preferred seats at the 50 yard line;

• $10,300 for a concession stand oven and range top hood with a fire suppression unit that was required by safety codes;

• $5,200 for rooftop pavers for the back half of the press box roof; and

• $2,850 for a retaining wall along the press box driveway that engineer Tony Street said could be eliminated with some slope alterations.

The deductions brought Preston’s original $3,325,000 bid down to $3,154,100, or approximately $600,000 more than the school board-targeted $2.5 million budget for the project.

The new facility will include bleacher seating for 2,720 people and 180 fixed-back seats at mid-field, a new press box, a new concession stand, new LED lighting, new perimeter fencing, a paved parking area, a new field house laundry and new asphalt for the paved circle around the field.

Immediately after the vote to award the contract, Director of Schools John English emphasized the new stadium and will not require any new tax dollars.

The stadium and several other capital projects planned by the school systems will instead be paid for with $333,000 in annual debt service the system is currently paying on a capital outlay note that was used for construction of the high school and on schedule to be paid off in June 2021.

In a brief discussion of other projects coming up, English said the school system will soon be ready to advertise for bids for a new lighting and sound system for the high school auditorium and has also begun work on plans for a new electrical and HVAC system for Rock Creek Elementary School.

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