Armstrong School Officials Narrow Possible Stadium Architects

by Jonathan Weaver

Hopes for junior high and varsity River Hawks to play sports in their own stadium this Fall are ramping up.

The decision to continue discussions with a leading architect firm to design Armstrong Junior/Senior High School’s new sports stadium is on Monday night’s agenda for Armstrong School District board directors.

Finances and Operations Director Sam Kirk told school board members during their open caucus session Thursday that information was sent to 15-20 architectural firms in Pennsylvania after November’s approval to seek interest.

“We had 10 respond to it – the RFP was requesting an estimate, conceptual design (and) proposed fees from the architect for a 3,000 seat stadium with synthetic turf, football field, six-lane track, lights, scoreboard, 12,500 square foot fieldhouse (which would include concession stands, locker rooms and public restrooms) and a 500-square-foot press box on top,” Kirk reported last night.

School directors, district administrators – such as Kirk, School Superintendent Chris DeVivo and Facilities Director Bill Henley – and high school athletic staff -such as athletic directors Todd Harvey and varsity football coach Frank Fabian – eventually narrowed interested architects to a single bidder – IKM, Inc. of Pittsburgh. The last round of interviews was held Wednesday.

Kirk explained a reason for the group’s recommendation included IKM’s affiliation with Gateway Engineers, in Butler, and JTSA Sports, of Burgettstown.

“Their estimates came in around $6 million. Those are just estimates – we’re going to give them a budget based on what we think we can afford, which is somewhat in that neighborhood at this point,” Kirk said. “Three architects working together, but the main architect is IKM.”

Community stakeholders will also have input into the final designs.

Even though he was not at the architect presentations, School Board President Joseph Close is anxious to finish the athletic complex.

“I think we’ll garner some support more so now as people see the stadium that could be there,” Close said. “A stadium (can also be used for a lot more) than just a football game.”

A vote Monday would not totally commit school district officials to the project.

In August 2014, L.R. Kimball Project Manager Brian Hayes presented school board members with $9.1-$10.5 million cost estimates for the athletic complex at their first open caucus session of the 2014-15 fiscal year, but in January 2015, Hayes proposed cutbacks to the stadium to entice more competitive bids.

A total $9.1 million bid was calculated for the 3,500-seat football stadium alone from the five lowest bids opened in June 2014.

In November, Kirk said Armstrong School District will receive more than $1.5 million in reimbursable PlanCon funds from the State following completed construction projects – including at Lenape Elementary, West Hills Primary and West Hills Intermediate – and another possible $2.8 million in reimbursement for the new high school.