Upper Arlington Schools opened its newest athletics facility behind Tremont Elementary School earlier this month, the first in a series of upgrades planned throughout the district.
On Sept. 3, members of the Upper Arlington High School girls soccer team became the first athletes to use the new multipurposeartificial-turf field, which replaced two grass playing fields behind Tremont.
The turf field is being used for UAHS soccer, lacrosse and field hockey. It's part of a $2.15 million project that also will yield improved drainage in the area, as well as a baseball field and softball field on district-owned land adjacent to Northam Park that is expected to be ready for use by spring.
"We anticipate the project construction to be completed by Oct. 31 and the entire project to open for the spring 2019 season," said Chris Potts, the district's chief operating officer.
Due in part to a rainy August, the artificial-turf field wasn't completed in time for the start of the fall sports season. That forced UAHS soccer teams to practice on fields at the high school and Burbank Early Childhood School.
"The turf field will be a great addition to the school's athletic program and the community," Potts said. "The baseball and softball fields will be open for (the) spring 2019 season.
"When not in use by the schools, we expect community groups to have the opportunity to reserve the fields for use."
Potts' comments echoed remarks made in March when the district was planning the new sports facilities at Tremont.
"The Tremont athletic complex will provide flexibility and updated facilities for our student athletes during and after construction at the high school site," Superintendent Paul Imhoff said. "We plan to maintain the park setting and also provide a great resource for our community when not in use by the athletic teams."
From here, the district will proceed with the reconstruction of UAHS and reconstructions or renovations at each of its five elementary schools.
Those projects are being funded by a 5.17-mill bond issue local voters approved last November as part of Issue 43. The bond will provide about $230 million for the projects, according to district officials.
The district currently is working through revisions to initial development plans for the remaining projects after cost estimates came in over budget.
That work includes shaving roughly $15 million off designs at UAHS by reducing its height from four floors to three and rebuilding Marv Moorehead Stadium in its current footprint.
District officials have pledged that each of the projects at the high school and five elementary schools will stay within the budget allotted by Issue 43.
"The budget is the budget, and we have no mechanism for being over budget," Potts said at a July meeting to update the community on the projects. "So we have to stick to what our budget is."
Currently, the tentative timeline for construction is:
* November 2018: The final elements of the new Tremont fields -- baseball and softball diamonds, storage and restroom facility -- will be completed and will open in March 2019.
* March 2019: Construction begins on the UAHS stadium. Tremont will be prepped for the arrival of modular classrooms for use during the 2019-20 school year.
* Late spring/early summer 2019: Work will begin on the high school, Barrington, Greensview, Tremont and Wickliffe elementary school sites.
* Fall 2019: UAHS stadium complete.
* March 2020: Barrington will be prepped for the arrival of modular classrooms for use during the 2020-21 school year.
* June 2020: Demolition of the current Windermere building begins to make way for the new school to be built on the same footprint; the old Wickliffe will serve as transitional space for Windermere students for the 2020-21 school year.
* Fall 2020/spring 2021: The new Greensview and Wickliffe Progressive elementary schools and the renovated Tremont Elementary School will open to students.
* Fall 2021: The new Windermere and renovated Barrington elementary schools and the new high school will open to students. Work will continue on the high school site to demolish the old building and develop athletics fields.
* Fall 2022: The new high school site and the first phase of the community-developed master plan will be fully completed.
"All projects are progressing through design and construction document phases and we are looking forward to breaking ground on the high school around spring break and the other school around summer break," Potts said.