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Second Time Is A Charm For School District PPEL

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Levy To Fund Overhaul Of Athletic Complex

By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

Glenwood is building a new football stadium.

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By a 969 to 838 margin in a special election last Tuesday, Glenwood Community School District voters approved a Physical Plant and Equipment levy (PPEL) that will generate $3.7 million for the district for an overhaul to the Glenwood Athletic Complex.

Last Tuesday’s vote was the second go around for the PPEL after an April 2017 measure failed to generate enough votes for a then $6 million project. The approval of the project completes more than two years of planning and work by the district, the Glenwood Board of Directors and the Youth Action Committee (YAC), a group of Glenwood citizens who spearheaded the campaign to replace the aging athletic complex.

The Glenwood Athletic Complex has been on the district’s list of infrastructure needs for years. The complex has hosted Ram football since at least 1947. The field house building opened in 1961 and additions were added to the south in 1973 and another addition was completed in 1996.

The complex has long been rumored to be past due for an overhaul similarly undertaken by districts in Treynor, Harlan, Council Bluffs Lewis Central and Plattsmouth, Neb. in recent years. In the last year, both Denison and Creston have also announced major infrastructure projects that include athletic complex upgrades.
The approved PPEL includes a new financial structure to pay for it and a “scaled back” version of that original April 2017 design plan.

The new measure has added a district commitment of $200,000 annually over the 10 years of the PPEL. The financial funding package lowers the district’s tax asking for the project down from the original $1.34 per $1,000 to .85 cents per $1,000 of taxable valuation. According to figures supplied by the YAC, a Glenwood resident who owns a home with an assessed value of $123,000 (the average cost of a home in the district) will pay $55.41 more annually in taxes for the life of the PPEL.

Construction plans, while yet to go to the final design phase, still includes a new running track, new home bleachers, expanded visitor bleachers, a new press box, new locker rooms, a new entryway into the complex, a new concession stand, renovations to the grass playing surface, additional parking and a pick up and drop off driveway.
Plans for a field turf playing surface, a standing platform on the top of the bleachers and a pair of pedestrian bridges across Keg Creek, which were a part of the original design, were scrapped for financial reasons.

But, Glenwood Activities Director Jeff Bissen said all three could be added back, depending on final costs and the results of a private fundraising campaign that will be spearheaded by YAC.

Bissen said the hope is to raise $650,000 privately to cover the costs of the alternates that were taken out of the original design. Field turf, the standing platform and bridges across Keg Creek that will tie into the trailhead project and would add additional parking stalls and easier access for visitors to enter the complex on the southeast side, are all in play with a successful fundraising campaign.

Of the alternates, field turf is the priority, Bissen said, and would tie in to the track replacement covered by the PPEL.
Bissen can’t pinpoint exactly why the PPEL passed this time, but did say better messaging by the district in regards to the financing, as well as listening to feedback garnered from surveying the YAC did, all played a role.
Bissen also pointed to the school’s $200,000 a year contribution towards the project, which in turn lowered the taxable amount to voters, as a key factor in the measure passing. 

In addition to voter surveying, the YAC hosted a handful of informational meetings about the project leading up to the vote. While Darren Thomas, spokesperson for the YAC, was uncertain how the vote would go a few weeks before, from his talks with voters and at the meetings, he became increasingly confident in the days leading up to last Tuesday.
“I thought it would pass,” Thomas said. “I knew all along it would be close but I was just positive it would pass.”
The design phase for the new Glenwood complex is likely to begin in the next few weeks, according to Thomas. HSR Associated, a Wisconsin-based architectural firm, is designing the project.

As design plans are finalized, the YAC will turn its attention to fundraising efforts in the coming weeks. Thomas anticipates a multi-tiered campaign to incorporate “anyone who wants to get involved and donate.”

“Looking at what Harlan and other schools in the area have done, there are a lot of fundraising options, whether it be a campaign selling a brick, general donations or whatnot,” Thomas said. “We’ve not settled on one thing yet for fundraising.”

Thomas has said the Glenwood Booster Club will remain a separate fundraising entity for the district.
Construction bids for the project will likely go out in July. The district is targeting late fall 2018, following the conclusion of the football season, as its start date with an expected late-Summer 2019 completion date, according to Thomas.