Construction of a house on the Cedar Shoals football field could begin soon


Planning steps for a long-awaited country house for Cedar Shoals athletic programs will begin this summer, the Clarke County School System said.

In the fall of 2019, the Clarke County School System proposed spending approximately $ 2.5 million in SPLOST funding on artificial turf fields and track renovations at its two public high schools.

Clarke Central jumped on board, but Cedar Shoals concluded that it was in his best interest to allocate his share of the funding for a new country house that could accommodate the soccer and football teams, provide a more weight room. large and updated meeting rooms and offices for coaches. .

Both schools applied for an 8-lane track, which Clarke Central received, but Cedar Shoals property line adjoined another property and officials determined there was not enough space to expand its 6-lane track.

The Clarke Central lane expansion to eight lanes means new side bleachers and concession stands were built and the cost of the project more than doubled the original proposal.

Clarke Central completed renovations in time to host football games last season and it recently hosted the Athens Track Championships on its new 8-lane track.

While the Cedar Shoals runway renovation has been completed – at a cost of $ 900,000 – designs for the country house have yet to take place, leaving many on the east side wondering when they will receive their share. of the SPLOST cake.

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John Gilbreath, SPLOST’s director for Clarke County Schools, believes construction will be completed on the two-story pitch by the 2022 football season.

Gilbreath said funds have been allocated to start the design project, and he and other Cedar Shoals officials, such as athletic director Dreco Thomas and football coach LeRoy Ryals, will begin the early stages of their vision. from the country house at the end of the school year. .

“Realistically, we won’t have it (finished) this year,” Gilbreath said. “But we can do the design this summer and then hopefully start, if the cash flow allows, depending on the collections and everything, that we can do it later in the fall to do it and the deliver in August or September. 2022. “

The preliminary budget is around $ 4 million, but prices and post-pandemic demand could cause costs to increase.

Gilbreath said the perceived delay in construction was due to the fact that the initial research and cost proposals for the turf fields had already been done when Cedar Shoals requested a country house.

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A civil engineer presented a cost analysis and design of the artificial turf and pathway renovations at the two schools, but Cedar Shoals’ request meant that an architect would have to help build a country house before the submissions are only taken by the school system. .

With projects already underway at Clarke Middle, West Broad Elementary, and the new school board office at the former Piedmont College location on Prince Avenue, the Cedar Shoals country house has been pushed to the bottom of the list. current priorities for Gilbreath.

He believes, however, that the school system will still be able to use funds from the most recent SPLOST to finance its construction.

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“There is always the possibility of borrowing money from the general fund to finance projects, but there is logistics on repayment of the general fund of our SPLOST programs, so we have to make sure to follow these rules if we let’s do it, ”Gilbreath said. “Our goal is to get the design, we have that money set aside to do it. We have the flexibility to do that with the SPLOST program, but realizing that if you take money out of that pot, it takes money from another pot. “

The country house will be on the north side of the house bleachers, next to the end area. Gilbreath said other measures involved in construction, such as stormwater management, will factor in the cost of the project.

The addition will allow Cedar Shoals to feel more competitive against teams in their standings. Area 8-4A rivals like North Oconee and Jefferson have country homes next to their stadiums with all the amenities the Jaguars demand.

It also means they will be leaving the locker rooms and coaching offices that have been used since the 1980s.

“Having facilities on par with other schools in our ranking helps us put ourselves on a level playing field,” said Thomas. “Not everyone needs to be cramped and share. It helps us save space and just for education we can offer multiple strength training classes. There are so many layers. to that.”

Gilbreath noted that the Cedar Shoals softball field recently received slight upgrades and that the school itself will receive a “Remade and Upgraded MVP due to the age of their school” with the upcoming SPLOST funding.

“It will be a definite benefit for the community – for the east side,” Gilbreath said. “There will be a lot of attention on Cedar’s path over the next couple of years.”

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