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022417 Huyck Stadium 02.jpg (copy)

In this Feb. 24, 2017, file photo, Russ Samaniego mows the grass field at Huyck Stadium at Lompoc High School. The facility moved closer to a major remodel during Tuesday night’s meeting of the Lompoc Unified School District Board of Education.

The proposed remodel of Lompoc’s Huyck Stadium moved closer to becoming a reality Tuesday evening, as the Lompoc Unified School District Board of Education approved a pair of key moves.

The board voted 5-0 to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Healthy Lompoc Coalition that sets some important funding target dates and outlines each entity’s role in the project. In a separate move, the board also voted unanimously to contract with an outside firm for architectural and engineering services related to the project.

The two approvals came less than three months after representatives of the Healthy Lompoc Coalition initially proposed the project to the board Feb. 21 as a joint venture between their organization and the school district. The MOU that was agreed upon Tuesday gives a clearer picture of how that relationship will work.

The complete cost for the project, which will involve an overhaul of the track and sports field area of the 54-year-old LUSD-owned Huyck Stadium, is estimated to be about $2.4 million. As had been discussed at previous LUSD board meetings, the MOU states that the funding for the project will be a 50-50 split, with the Healthy Lompoc Coalition and LUSD each contributing about $1.2 million.

Ashley Costa, the executive director of the Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization, which facilitates the Healthy Lompoc Coalition, had previously stated that her organization was planning to obtain the money through fundraising and soliciting donations.

According to the MOU, the Healthy Lompoc Coalition will need to come up with the $1.2 million by June 30, 2018. If it does not, the MOU states that LUSD “will have no obligation to proceed with the design or construction” of the project.

Similarly, the agreement offers a termination clause for either party if the Healthy Lompoc Coalition’s fundraising efforts do not adequately progress over the next 13 months.

There was no mention of how LUSD planned to come up with its share of the funding, though Superintendent Trevor McDonald has said in the past that a range of proposals will be introduced to the board.

The MOU also states that LUSD will be the sole authority responsible for obtaining all approvals, selecting construction contracts, working with contractors, and will have the final say regarding the project’s design. It does say, however, that the district will make efforts to work closely with the Healthy Lompoc Coalition throughout the project’s timeline.

In the second stadium project-related vote Tuesday, the board approved LUSD to enter into an $18,000 contract with Kruger Bensen Ziemer Architects, a firm out of Santa Barbara, for preliminary services.

The firm’s scope of work will include field investigations, topography and soil surveys and reports, reviewing turf systems, and assisting in the Division of the State Architect approval process.

The $18,000 cost for that contract is set to be split, with $9,000 coming from LUSD and another $9,000 from the Healthy Lompoc Coalition.

There was little discussion regarding the moves at Tuesday’s meeting, though board member Bill Heath asked if the board would have the authority to change plans for the synthetic turf field after community members had raised concerns about synthetic turf at previous meetings. Superintendent McDonald said that yes, the board could make those types of changes at its discretion.

The project, as currently planned, would primarily involve converting the natural grass field at the stadium to synthetic turf, switching the track from its loose red clay to a synthetic polyurethane — or “all-weather” — surface, and reconfiguring the track to the modern accepted standard of 400 meters with nine lanes.

The stadium, which is used by sports teams at Lompoc and Cabrillo high schools, would also enter into a public-private partnership in which it would be open to the entire community outside of school events.

Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.

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