Repairs needed at Rome Free Academy Stadium including the turf field and track as well as the building have received “good news for the future” regarding state financial assistance, says school district Superintendent Peter C. Blake.
In a “big change,” the state Education Department will now fund work at the Turin Street stadium structure plus its track and field and attach it to a proposed capital project at the RFA school at Griffiss park, Blake told the Board of Education Wednesday night.
The board has been considering a potential new athletic complex behind RFA in addition to maintenance work at the school; Blake previously had noted the state would no longer provide financial aid for renovations at the current stadium which is not part of a regular school site.
But Blake said after the board meeting that plans for a new athletic complex at RFA’s Griffiss park site would “significantly change” as a result of the state’s newly revised position on funding. More details on an overall school district capital project proposal involving RFA and Staley Elementary School, including how much financial aid would be provided by the state, are anticipated at the board’s meeting on Sept. 12.
The school district is still aiming to schedule a public bonding referendum vote in December to seek approval for the capital project, said Blake. Typically the state’s financial aid has reimbursed large percentages of the district’s costs for capital projects at schools.
The state’s change in agreeing to provide aid toward RFA Stadium repairs will “help us be able to do it” in a quicker and “more affordable fashion,” Blake told the board. It also “will change the proposal we bring forward to the board,” he said in relation to capital project plans.
Among potential capital project pricetags that were presented to the board on Aug. 1 were $44.3 million to move Staley to an expanded former Clough school building, and $20 million for a new athletic complex behind the RFA school.
The Staley move was included in a first priority group totaling $55.6 million for possible projects as outlined by the architectural firm used by the school district, board President Stephen P. Hampe said after the Aug. 1 meeting. Among other items in that priority group was work to help restore the RFA Stadium field facilities to acceptable levels for usage, which would possibly provide a few more years before seeking a new RFA athletic complex behind the Grifiiss park school, Hampe had said.
However, the school district learned this week of the state’s revised position on funding the work at RFA Stadium, Blake said.
The stadium’s track is in bad shape and needs to be replaced, Blake said in May; some areas have been patched in recent years, and some scheduled varsity track meets have not been held there due to concerns about the conditions. The artificial turf on the field, meanwhile, is about 15 years old and has been patched in various spots. School district officials have said it also needs replacing.
The RFA school previously had been located on Turin Road next to RFA Stadium before moving in 2002 to a newly built facility at Griffiss park.