“I’m impressed with the new look and safety. I think our fans will be a lot safer,” he told the Reflector during Monday’s tour of Whitney Field. “It looks nice.”
The new bleachers were the first stop of the school board’s annual tour of the district buildings. Also on Monday’s tour were Corey Ream, district director of operations, and treasurer Joyce Dupont. Board members Kevin Cashen and Steve Linder were unable to attend due to work obligations.
In February, the board accepted a $282,562 to replace and upgrade the home-side bleachers. The entire process took slightly longer than a month.
As the tour started Monday, a work crew poured concrete on the landing to the new stairs near the concession stand. Previously, the only access to that side of the bleachers was the handicapped-accessible ramp.
“The concrete work was the last part,” Fisk said. “They hit the time frame we had. We wanted it done by the first game with Willard.”
The Norwalk Truckers open the season Thursday by hosting the Willard Flashes in their first Sandusky Bay Conference, non-division game.
“The bleachers look great. I can’t wait for the fans to see them,” Ream said.
(NOTE: Due to a scheduling problem with the inspection team from Richland County, the new bleachers won’t be able to be used tonight or Saturday for St. Paul’s home opener.)
The biggest improvements were replacing all the wood in the bleachers with aluminum and adding brace supports. Board member John Lendrum said the original substructure remains in place but the aluminum decking is all new.
“It doesn’t have the give that the wood had,” he added.
Other improvements include: “full handrails” from the bottom of the bleachers to the top, new fencing at the top and a wider walkway in front of the first row.
“That’s to accommodate the new handicapped section,” Fisk said, referring to the walkway.
Previously, the only place for fans in wheelchairs was in a space off to the side of the bleachers near the concession stands. Now the wheelchairs can be in the wider walkway along the front row. Fisk and Lendrum estimated there are room for 12 wheelchairs; the previous space held four.
“We have handicapped spaces that run the whole length of the bleachers,” Lendrum said.
“That will help with the traffic flow there,” Fisk added.
Also, there now is no space for items to be dropped through the bottom of the bleachers.
Demolition of the previous bleachers started in July. That was a combined effort of volunteers from Norwalk City Schools and Norwalk Catholic School.
“We did it over two Saturdays,” Fisk said. “The last wood came off in July.”
During Monday’s tour, the board members and administrators saw the new boiler at the Norwalk Middle School, which was about one-third the size of the previous one. Other district improvements include concrete work at League Elemenary and Main Street schools. A small bathroom in one of the League modular classrooms was eliminated to create a larger learning space.