Friday, November 16 , 2018, 7:22 am | Fair 47º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara District May Divert Armory Funding to $38M Peabody Stadium Renovation

Schools officials consider using $6 million of the bond funding set aside to purchase the National Guard's Santa Barbara Armory property toward the stadium project

Renovation plans for Santa Barbara High School’s Peabody Stadium have hit delays and escalating construction costs, which have hit $38 million. Click to view larger
Renovation plans for Santa Barbara High School’s Peabody Stadium have hit delays and escalating construction costs, which have hit $38 million.  (Noozhawk file photo)

In the face of ever-escalating costs of construction, Santa Barbara Unified School District officials may commit more voter-approved school bond funds to help pay for the Peabody Stadium renovation project — this time, from the $20-million amount set aside for purchasing the National Guard Armory site. 

The price tag to replace Santa Barbara High School’s nearly century-old stadium has skyrocketed to an estimated $38 million and the district recently rejected all bids after they came in millions over budget. 

The construction timeline also stretched out; District staff now hope to have the stadium finished in April 2019, if a bid is accepted. 

The next bidding window closes July 11 and district officials are looking at more funding options, including $6 million of the money designated to purchase the National Guard's Santa Barbara Armory land.​

Last fall, voters approved Measure I that set aside $20 million for renovating the armory site at 700 E. Canon Perdido St. as an educational and community resource.

Superintendent Cary Matsuoka said the estimated purchase price is $14 million for the five-acre site, which is situated directly between Santa Barbara Junior High and Santa Barbara High School. However, district staff have not received the state’s appraisal, yet, and expect a higher price compared to the district’s estimate. 

Board of Education President Kate Parker said the Santa Barbara community values the armory and urged individuals to express feedback on the proposed suggestion.

“I hate the idea of having to divert money from the armory,” Parker said. “I hesitate at the reassignment of that $6 million from the armory to this (Peabody Stadium).”

District officials estimate that underground infrastructure work makes up about 70 percent of the project cost, which are items that will not be directly used or touched by students and the public. 

The district plans to replace the track and field at Santa Barbara High School’s Peabody Stadium. Click to view larger
The district plans to replace the track and field at Santa Barbara High School’s Peabody Stadium.  (Noozhawk file photo)

“It’s not flashy,” Parker said. “The most unexpected costs are in the infrastructure.” 

Renovation plans include concrete grandstands, artificial turf and a synthetic surface track. The infrastructure work would deal with underground utilities and replace the underground storm drains, which have runoff from 260 acres drains under the stadium property.

Project funding so far includes $6.3 million in state seismic funding and nearly $5 million in money privately raised by the Santa Barbara High School Foundation.

The school board approved shifting $9.2 million in voter-approved bond funding to the stadium project in January, when the project cost was estimated at $26.7 million. The board had previously committed $4 million in bond funds. 

Greg Tebbe, a board member of the foundation and campaign chairman for the school’s Peabody Stadium renovation, said the project’s inception began six years ago to restore the asphalt track. 

Tebbe said donors are eager to start the renovation project, and that some people are frustrated with the holdup and might want their money back if more delays occur.

“They may lose confidence in the project,” Tebbe said.

District staff is expected to prepare project recommendations at the July 25 school board meeting. 

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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