New six lane track added to Shik complex upgrades

Jan. 7—SUNBURY — The Shikellamy Stadium will receive a new artificial playing surface and a new six-lane track after core tests showed the existing track needs to be replaced.

The Shikellamy School District board of directors met Thursday in a work session to discuss $5.2 million project and said it is set to begin in the spring.

The district has already agreed on representatives of engineering and landscape architecture firm ELA Sport, of State College, to begin the process of showing the school board preliminary designs of the stadium upgrades.

Board President Wendy Wiest asked fellow directors if anyone had anything else to add to the project, citing the district met with various groups within the district and listened to advice from members of the public.

Wiest said the media had published several stories about the project and that the district took all advice under consideration.

Superintendent Jason Bendle said the district continues to work with the Schrader Group, of Lancaster, and ELA Sport, to get the ball rolling in order to have a new turf field at the Braves Stadium for the start of the 2023 football season.

Wiest said she wants to make sure all coaches and district officials realize the new sports complex is for everyone and every team and the public to walk on the track.

Other directors, including Jeff Balestrini agreed with Wiest.

"This is more of a complex," he said. "I know some wanted an eight-lane track but we are missing that we will be receiving a brand new six-lane track."

Athletic Director Tim Foor said he wanted to clarify that the district would still be able to host PIAA district events with a six-lane track. He said the rules say a six-lane track can be used for these types of events and that a school district does not have to have an eight-lane track in order to get the events.

Bendle said the price of the new complex will increase some because of the news the track had to be completely replaced but he wasn't sure what the difference would be just yet.

According to Todd Smith, project manager for ELA Sports, adding two more lanes to the track would cost $750,000 to $1.2 million because there would need to be alterations to the visitor bleachers side and additional pedestrian access. The other issues would be grading challenges for paving and pedestrian travel, he said.

Not that the project couldn't be done, but the cost is extremely more, Bendle said.

Wiest said she was also proud Shikellamy would finally get a female locker room as well as upgrades to the bathrooms inside the stadium. The bathrooms inside the stadium are outdated and are a top priority, Director Slade Shreck said.

Directors voted on hiring the Schrader Group, of Lancaster, to design plans for the stadium. The board agreed on the cost of $125,000.

According to business Manager Brian Manning, the district has $4.2 million of the funds in capital reserves and a construction fund, so taxpayers would not have to expect a tax increase to foot the bill.

The remaining $800,000 and an additional $200,000 for lighting would be raised through a campaign held by the Braves Foundation.

Directors agreed they would let the foundation handle the campaign and would spend only the money they raised on the project.

"We are all very excited about the potential that the new stadium project will bring," track coach Jonny Evans said.

Shikellamy High School assistant football coach Logan Leiby said he was also excited for the new complex.

"The stadium upgrades is a great opportunity for all the student athletes and will encourage more students to get involved and have pride in their community," he said.

"The students of Shikellamy deserve the best and that is what we are all trying to provide them," Leiby said.

Turf has been the topic of discussion for many years in the district, and ELA Sport representatives said the cost if the district decided to just install turf would be $2.5 million with the infrastructure and utilities. The $2.7 million would be spent on the additions of buildings to the complex.

Representatives of ELA told the board the turf would need to be replaced in 10 to 12 years, but the cost would be $500,000.

Bendle said the track season would not be impacted — because actual construction would not start until after the season— but graduation will be.

Bendle and the board agreed graduation would be moved to the practice fields near the stadium so that graduation would remain on campus.