Construction of the new Jefferson Elementary School near the intersection of 37th Avenue and Manito Boulevard is under way, and come this spring a major overhaul of Hart Field will begin as well.
Spokane Public Schools presented plans for the Hart Field renovation project at an open house last Thursday at Jefferson Elementary School.
“Hart Field really needs a hand,” said Greg Brown, Spokane Public Schools director of capital projects. Lewis and Clark High School’s home field holds track, football, tennis, softball and soccer fields, and some of those fields will be relocated as part of the renovation.
“The football stadium and the track stay where it is,” said Brown, “but we will move the bleachers to the other side of the track.”
Two tennis courts will be added, bringing the number of courts to 10.
The soccer fields, located just east of where the new Jefferson Elementary School is being built, will move to the northern part of Hart Field, closer to Sacajawea Middle School. Two softball fields will be moved to where the soccer fields are now located.
“The fieldhouse will get a major overhaul,” Brown said. “Right now, the men have more space than the women – we are going to even that out. And we are adding a weightlifting facility as well.”
Consignment facilities will be updated and storage facilities, now spread out across Hart Field, will be consolidated and modernized.
Jeff Norton, Lewis and Clark’s activities and athletic director, had nothing but good things to say about the project.
“It is going to be awesome for us,” Norton said. “We had to wait a little bit for everything to get organized, but this is going to be fabulous when it’s done.”
The Hart Field restoration budget is $2.5 million, which is separate from the $25.1 million budget for Jefferson Elementary School. Both are paid for by a school bond passed by voters in 2009.
The fact that Jefferson Elementary School is being relocated – not renovated in its current location – remains a point of contention with some neighbors who maintain the move will lead to traffic congestion on Manito Boulevard and by Sacajawea Middle School. They claim a modernized Hart Field will draw even more traffic into their neighborhood. A lawsuit filed against Spokane Public Schools by the Hart Field Preservation Organization aimed to block the move of Jefferson Elementary School, but failed to meet a court deadline earlier this year and was dismissed.
Brown said traffic engineers have studied traffic during Hart Field events and found that on average 315 cars show up looking for parking.
“We will add more parking with the renovation,” Brown said, “we are trying to cut down on the street parking that takes place during events up here.” He added that since Hart Field’s capacity remains the same after the renovation it’s unlikely it will increase area traffic.
The entire project will be put out for bid in spring and then completed in phases.
“We expect to wrap it up in 2014,” Brown said.