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Unicoi County school board looking to trim $3.3 million cost of Gentry Stadium makeover

Sue Guinn Legg • Oct 24, 2019 at 11:41 PM

ERWIN — Faced with a cost overrun of more than $300,000 for the replacement of Unicoi County High School’s Gentry Stadium, Board of Education members on Thursday began “value engineering” plans for the project.

Director of School John English began Thursday’s meeting with the announcement that the $3,325,000 low bid for the demolition and reconstruction of the deteriorating stadium was submitted by Preston Construction.

Because the cost was more than what’s budgeted, English said he asked the contractor and Tony Street of BLS Thompson and Litton for a breakdown of major design elements for the board’s consideration.

Street gave the board a rundown along with approximately $304,000 in potential cuts to bring the project into budget.

The recommended cuts included:

• $62,000 in savings on a portion of the stadium’s perimeter fencing that Street said can be repaired and painted rather than replaced;

• $190,000 reduction in the amount of pavement included in the project;

• Elimination of a walking path from stadium to an adjoining practice field;

• A $23,000 reduction in landscaping features; and

• Elimination of a retaining wall along the drive up the stadium’s embankment to the press box.

Street recommended the board leave certain design elements in the plans, including:

• New pavement for the circle around the playing field that he said is likely to be damaged during demolition and construction;

• A fieldhouse laundry room update with new commercial grade washer, dryer and two water heaters;

• New LED lighting to bring the field’s foot candle up to TSSAA standards; and

• A new crown and new irrigation system for the football field.

Additional cuts discussed by the board included

• Approximately $90,000 in savings through the elimination of a new crown for the football field that Head Coach Drew Rice said is “the best field we play on, from here to Nashville;”

• A $10,000 stove with a fire suppression hood for the concession stand; and 

• A reduction in the 300 seat-back seats planned along the 50-yard line.

On the board’s request, Street agreed to prepare new figures on those and other design elements to be considered and put to a vote in a second called meeting on the project set for Tuesday.

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