Voters in the Elma School District will get a fifth opportunity to decide on a new stadium. This time, it is proposed to be built on the high school’s track, beside Davis Field, where the stadium built in the 1950s was torn down in 2014.
The most recent vote was in 2015.
“At the conclusion of that election, two longtime community members, ardent supporters of the school, both came to me the day after the election, after it failed, and said, ‘Build it over there (by the high school), and we’ll pass it,’ ” Superintendent Kevin Acuff said.
“We listened to you (the voters) when they said don’t put it there,” Acuff added, referring to previous ballot issues proposing a stadium beside the elementary school.
The fifth bond vote is the cheapest at $5.53 million to be paid off over 20 years: $3 million for the stadium and system, $1.2 million for the artificial turf and equipment, $900,000 for infrastructure, and $430,000 for design and project management.
Acuff and Jack Monroe, the stadium bond chairman, expect the bond to cost property owners about 36 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. For an owner of a home assessed by the county to be worth $300,000, their taxes would go up $108 dollars per year.
“I believe that the new stadium is a great thing not just for our kids, but for the City as a whole,” Elma Mayor Jim Sorensen said. “It is an investment on our future that will be an asset for many decades to come, and it could be a deciding factor on more families moving to Elma. It would be something for us to take a great amount of pride in. I really hope the bond passes this time.”
Both Acuff and Monroe acknowledge that a stadium beside Davis Field would flood periodically.
“This location is a little bit less impacted by floods,” Monroe said. “We can build this out if we adhere to codes and take measures to mitigate a flood event.”
Acuff stressed that the proposed site is higher than the current field and an artificial turf field could withstand more use in wetter conditions than a grass field.
“If you’re going to consistently use the field, it cannot be grass,” he said stressing that a grass field can quickly become unplayable. “In the spring, all we needed was a significant rain event to have standing water on the field — not flood water, standing water coming from the water table.”
So far, Acuff said, preliminary work for a stadium and adding the bond issue to the February ballot has cost the school about $30,000 from its general fund.
It’s the fifth time since November 2010 that voters will get a say in a new stadium. All earlier attempts fell well short of the super-majority (60%) needed to pass. Previous votes placed a new stadium near the elementary school on the edge of town.
In November 2015, Elma district voters turned down a $6.9 million bond issue that would also have paid for a parking lot. The 52% of voters backing the proposal was the closest a new stadium has come to passing the 60% threshold.
In February 2014, only 46% of voters backed a $8.4 million bond for a new stadium.
About 50% of voters in May 2011 wanted a new stadium that came with a new transportation facility and new heating for schools for $11.3 million.
The November 2010 bond issue also was for $11.3 million and included a new transportation facility and “safety and health improvements,” according to past reporting by this paper. It failed with 50.4% of the votes.
Ballots for the February special election, which includes the Elma stadium bond issue, go out this month. They are due Feb. 11.
The stadium bond will require a supermajority (60%) of the votes to pass. For more information on the stadium, go to the school district’s website on the subject, elmastadium.info.