Rocky Fork Enterprise

High school scores new home bleachers

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This rendering shows how the new bleachers should appear when the football season begins in late August.

Gahanna Lincoln High School fans can look forward to cheering on the Lions from new home bleachers -- and on the other side of the stadium -- in August.

The Gahanna Planning Commission on May 28 approved a certificate of appropriateness for site plans for Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools for bleachers and a press box for the stadium at 140 S. Hamilton Road.

Applicant Justin Sanford, the high school's athletics director, said the new home bleachers would be on the west side of the field and feature about 3,000 seats.

"We bring in portable bleachers for some of our larger games like Pickerington," he said. "We put those in the north end zone. We won't have to do that anymore."

The $700,000 project is being fully funded by the Gahanna Lincoln Athletic Department, donors and a personal-seat-license option.

The designer/architect is Dave York Sports, of Louisville, Ky.

Michael Blackford, the city's deputy director of planning and development, said the bleachers would have a footprint of 13,066 square feet and add 3,000 seats. He said the parking could be accommodated on the school property, including the spaces at Clark Hall.

The press box will be 8 by 24 feet, with a vinyl-siding exterior, in the center of the stands. A desert-sand color will match the press box on the other side of the field, he said.

Blackford said the bleachers would span about 260 feet in length, with reserved seating (chairs with backs and arm rests) on the left and bleacher-style seating on the right.

The press box will be able to accommodate 10 people.

Commission member Jennifer Price asked how the new bleachers would change the seating capacity.

Sanford said capacity on the visitors side, which would become the new home side, currently is about 2,000.

"Taking down the old (bleachers on the visitors side) and putting up 3,000 would take us to about 6,300 seats (total)," he said.

In other commission discussion, chairman Tom Wester said he and commission member Kristin Rosan recently met with council members Brian Larick and Tom Kneeland.

"We talked about what planning commission does, where should it be going and how has it changed over the last five to 10 years," he said.

Wester directed each member to answer the following questions via email: What do you think is the role of planning commission? What's the commission's needs? What should be the direction going forward? Should the commission be involved in short- and long-term planning?

"When you look up planning commission on the Internet, you get a wide range of activities," Wester said. "Gahanna has certain challenges."

Rosan said the city is undergoing a constant effort to maximize and leverage the resources it has with staffing and financial constraints.

"We have a wide range of expertise," she said. "We could engage in a prospective way and work with the administration to lay groundwork for our expectations."

She said city leaders want to make sure the commission's talents and expertise are being leveraged.

Commission member Joe Keehner said planning tasks usually are based on needs.

"A few things important to look at are branding and sense of place," he said. "That's important if Gahanna wants to exist in a regional context."

Planning and zoning administrator Bonnie Gard said she encourages City Council to see if funding is available to train commission members.

"It used to be every planning commission member went to an APA (American Planning Association) conference," she said.

The training at APA is invaluable for new planning commission members, she said. Participants are put into positions that are very important.

"Without training and background, it makes it more difficult for you," she said. "I hope they consider appropriate funding for all of you."

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