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School Board Votes 5-1 to Approve $2.4 Million Overhaul of Kirkwood High Stadium

Renovations that will make the stadium ADA compliant trigger concerns about the use of district funds.

An overhaul of Kirkwood High School's Lyons Stadium that will take place this summer will allow visitors with physical disabilities to access the stadium like never before during the 2013-2014 school year.

The Kirkwood School Board voted 5-1 Monday night to approve .

Although ADA compliance efforts met with support from residents who spoke at Monday's meeting, many voiced concerns that the project is being paid for with reserve money from the Kirkwood School District's maintenance fund.

"You owe it to the community to spend tax money the way it is intended, not stretch your interpretation to fit whatever end suits you," Kirkwood resident Sarah Haenni told board members Monday night. "The Maintenance Fund has a place, for sure. Do not betray the trust of the voters who put this fund in place by using the funds inappropriately."

Haenni, as well as others who spoke, objected to the fact that the Kirkwood School District is using maintenance money to fund projects outlined in Prop 2, a bond measure for athletic improvements that was voted down by residents in November 2010.

Sarah King was the only board member to vote against the project and questioned why maintenance money was being used to renovate the stadium.

"Is tearing down an existing structure and building a new one considered maintenance or new construction?" she asked in a statement she read before board members voted on the project. "More explanation is needed for why the maintenance fund is an appropriate use of funds to complete these renovations?"

King noted that the use of maintenance reserves to fund renovations to the Kirkwood High School stadium was first brought up during a board work session Dec. 3. She suggested renovations be put on hold until residents could learn more about the issue in a public format.

Kirkwood School District Superintendent Tom Williams spoke to the timing of the project.

Williams said that an examination of how to use reserve funds occurs annually in early December and that for years the Kirkwood School District has identified renovations Lyons Stadium as a necessary project.

"The timing is important because we're trying to get this accomplished when August rolls around," Williams said.

If an accident were to occur due to structural non-compliance, it would be considered malfeasance and he, along with the district, could face legal consequences, Williams said.

Safety also was a top concern for board member Scott Anderson.

"I would have it on my conscious if someone got hurt," Anderson said, adding that as a new board member he had spent the past week speaking with residents and researching the issue.

Board President Scott Stream said he has received a lot of feedback from residents about the condition of Lyons Stadium and that renovations are important to help the entire Kirkwood community enjoy the stadium.

"We've known all along that we have to do something about this," Stream said. "A lot of residents are pretty passionate about this."

Monday's meeting drew comments from several residents both for and against the project.

Among those in favor of the project was former board member Andy Stewart whose daughter is a special needs student in the Kirkwood School District and has a physical disability.

"It's not accessible. There's not a way to get into the stadium," Stewart told board members. "Maggie cannot participate."

Stewart urged the board to approve the project. He said he would like to take his daughter to a Pioneer football game.

RELATED CONTENT:

  • $2.4 Million Kirkwood High Stadium Project Considered by School Board
Meghan Stewart December 11, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Thank you to all of the school board members who voted to approve the Kirkwood High Stadium Improvement Project. These changes will make this space significantly more accessible to so many Kirkwood community members. These changes will not only benefit students, like my daughter, who have physical disabilities but so many others. With medical advances and general life expectancy rising, the chances of someone having a physical disability at some point in their life are fairly high. These stadium improvements will benefit everyone from Grandparents, to Moms with strollers, to the inevitable high school athlete who break a leg. Thank you to those board members who voted to make the community events that take place at that stadium open to all families and friends of Kirkwood.
Michael Biedenstein December 12, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Also, to clarify what the 2010 bond issue was: It was a $14.845 million proposal - which mostly went to the construction of an indoor pool... This article correctly points out these improvements were part of the (much larger) proposal, but not to the degree that other media outlets are making it out to be.
james willis December 12, 2012 at 03:59 AM
Great gratification tool for the success of the school as well as the community!!!! GO WOOD
Gary Kreie January 29, 2013 at 07:14 PM
For a little more than double what a press box costs ($6 million vs $2.4), Kirkwood could have had an aquatic complex, like the new one at Pattonville. Swimming is a lifelong physical skill enjoyed by all genders and physical disabilities. The dim Meramec pool where the team swims now is 44 years old. The swim schedule is often interrupted without notice for pool repairs. No transportation to Meramec is provided to daily practices after school, so that limits participation. Here is what Pattonville built: http://tinyurl.com/ayghofo

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