COLUMBUS — Columbus City Council approved a contract Monday night to install new bleachers on the visitors’ side of Pawnee Park’s Memorial Stadium, although not everyone is a fan of the project.
The city will pay Omaha-based Crouch Recreation Inc. $259,110 to construct the bleachers on the stadium’s east side, replacing the current seating that’s in bad shape and not compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.
The new bleachers will be permanent, so they can’t be flipped around to face the adjacent Pawnee Park Field during the high school and Legion baseball seasons.
Councilman Ron Schilling, a longtime Legion baseball coach, took issue with that part of the plan.
“This is going to be a little bit of an eyesore for the baseball people,” said Schilling, who called for the addition of seating facing the baseball field on the backside of the football bleachers to improve the aesthetics.
Schilling argued that the “nice baseball complex” would be tarnished by exposing fans and players to the backside of the football bleachers.
Public Property Director Doug Moore, who oversees the parks department, disagreed.
“I don’t think it will be an eyesore,” Moore said, noting that the area behind the football bleachers would provide a shaded spot for baseball fans to watch games.
Adding permanent baseball bleachers to the project would increase the total cost by roughly $100,000, according to Moore, and the baseball field lighting system would need to be redone because the guy wires supporting the poles are in the way.
Moore, who said additional storage is another option for the backside of the bleachers, has concerns about spending a lot of money on Pawnee Park Field when the Columbus Baseball Association is pushing a potential partnership with Columbus Public Schools that would add a new baseball complex on the high school campus.
The contract with Crouch Recreation was approved on an 8-0 vote.
Concrete work for the new seating will be completed ahead of the first high school football game in August, but the existing bleachers will be used for 2017 since the project was delayed by a lack of available materials.
The new bleachers, which will seat up to 800 people, will be installed after the final high school football game this fall.
Crouch Recreation, which is owned by Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch and his wife Nicole, was also paid $27,000 to design the bleacher setup.
Currently, the visitors’ side bleachers at Memorial Stadium can accommodate about 1,000 fans. However, the bottom three rows don’t get used often because it’s difficult to see the field, reducing the capacity to around 700 to 800 spectators.
The city initially considered increasing the seating capacity for the new bleachers, but that would have significantly raised the cost for the new restrooms currently under construction since more would be needed.
The stadium is used for Scotus Central Catholic and Columbus High home football games.
In other business, the council:
• Applied for federal funding to purchase a small lift-equipped bus for Columbus Area Transit. The bus has an estimated cost of $60,000, with 80 percent of that amount covered by federal funding if the request is approved.
Moore said the new bus would replace a current vehicle that has about 140,000 miles on the odometer and significant problems.
“It’s in major disrepair,” he said. “We’re repairing it all the time.”
The new vehicle would have a load limit of 800 pounds compared to 500 pounds for the current model.
• Appointed Jack Gutierrez to serve Fred Bellum’s unexpired term on the Civil Service Commission.
• Approved a change to the 2017 concrete improvement project that pays Gehring Construction and Ready Mix Co. $60,703 to repave the intersection of Eighth Street and 12th Avenue and reconstruct the sidewalk ramps so they’re compliant with ADA regulations.
City Engineer Rick Bogus said the hot weather caused a “blowout” near the intersection last week.
“That whole intersection is in pretty bad shape,” he said.
The repairs are expected to start in mid-July and be completed by mid-August. Detours will be needed during that time.
• Approved an agreement with Platte County to provide library services through June 30, 2020, for county residents living outside Columbus. The city will be paid $140,000 during the first year of the contract, with that amount increasing by $5,000 annually over the next two years.