Paonia High School, in partnership with the Town of Paonia, will spend about $100,000 to create plans for a multi-use sports facility. The money includes a $75,000 Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grant, and a matching grant from Bear Ranch.
School administrators, along with a committee of community members and other interested parties, envisions building football, baseball and track facilities, as well as interconnected pathways between school property and the town, in the near future.
The school has hired the Lafayette, CO.-based architectural firm, Design Concepts, to guide it through the design process, facilitate public meetings, and create construction-ready plans for the facility. The planning process is expected to take about five months.
The school will host a series of community meetings and seek public input on what that facility might look like, said PHS principal, Randall Palmer. The first meeting is expected to be held in early March.
Design Concepts was selected for its impressive resume, which includes numerous parks, trails and open space projects, and school sports facilities throughout the state.
PHS administrators, district representatives and committee members met last Wednesday with Design Concepts representatives to tour existing facilities and get a feel for the school's vision and limitations.
A main goal in planning is to involve the community in as many ways as possible, said Palmer. Exactly what the facility will look like remains to be seen, but the school would like it to benefit the entire community, connecting town and existing facilities, such as the River Park and Paonia Library, through a series of sidewalks and trails, or what he called "... a hub of interconnectedness between town and school."
Student and public safety are of utmost concern, said Palmer. As things exist now, there isn't even a complete sidewalk from town to the junior high/high school.
Paonia is the only town in the Delta County J50 school district without a sports facility on school grounds. In addition to allowing the school to host a wider range of sports events, the facility could also offer new venues for events such as concerts and conferences. And it would make the athletic programs at the schools much more efficient. The school currently uses Paonia Town Park to host football games, Volunteer Park for baseball games and tournaments, and the Hotchkiss High School track for track practice. That means a lot of extra time, work and expense, including busing students to and from facilities and planning around other events, said Palmer.
PHS is known throughout the state for its competitive sports programs, and it continues to grow, noted Palmer. Last year, 56 students were involved in the junior high track program alone. The first time they practiced events like high jump, hurdles and long jump "was at the track that they were going to compete on. That tells you a lot."
So far, community support for the project, which has been at least 10 years in the making, has been tremendous, said Palmer. About 30 citizens representing a wide range of the population, including educators, farmers, ranchers and area businesses, is working with the school to make the facility a reality. One member played on the 1959 state championship football team.
Community involvement is a big piece of the process, said Palmer. "We're excited to have this opportunity to have a forum."blog comments powered by Disqus