The Greenfield Exempted Village Schools Board of Education met with three architect firms recently to gain a visual understanding of the school facilities expansion and development that has been in the works for some time.
One architect provided drawings relating to an expansion of the gym lobby, something Superintendent Quincey Gray said has been a matter of discussion for more than a decade.
The proposed expansion would extend the east side of the new gym facade out into the school courtyard, allowing more room on the first floor to add ticketing and a concession area, and more space on the second floor for additional locker room space in both the girls’ and boys’ areas.
The additional locker room space is the real “driving force” behind the whole renovation, Gray said, and would provide more appropriate changing areas for not only home and visiting athletes, but also for student members of the drama department for plays, musicals and such.
Currently, there is no ticketing space within the lobby area, and concessions are sold from a small room in the old gym.
Additionally, the plans include a renovation of the outdated restrooms in the first floor lobby.
Two other architect firms presented plans for the development of a 32-acre property off of north Fifth Street, as well as the renovation of the current bus garage into an athletic facility.
According to Gray, athletic spaces throughout the school are shared between sports, presenting not only arduous set-up and take-down tasks with needed equipment, but also safety concerns. The goal is to provide dedicated space that is safer and more efficient, she said.
As to the development of the 32-acre property acquired earlier this year, there would be a new bus garage, a soccer field, baseball diamond, softball field, and track. The football and track facilities at the school grounds would not only remain, but also remain in use.
Gray said it is expected that within the next two to three years, the state will require school districts to have junior high baseball, softball and soccer teams, things that are currently not offered at the Greenfield schools. The junior high teams would use the fields at Mitchell Park, which is one reason the school has put money into improving those areas of the city-owned park.
A new bus garage has been a matter of discussion for some years because the current garage at the corner of Fifth and McClain streets is not efficient for fleet storage or maintenance. The current garage houses the regular route buses, while a fenced-off lot across from the garage serves as a parking area for trip buses.
The goal of the district is to evaluate design plans that will provide an opportunity for indoor bus storage and a more efficient maintenance area.
Also on the property is a wooded area that will likely remain, and could be used as some sort of outdoor learning lab, the superintendent said.
Gray said officials realize the development of the 32-acre property could be a cause for concern to residents in the area who have been neighbors to farmland for a long time, but Gray said it is important to school officials to be a good neighbor, and that they are considering everything from where right-of-ways will lay to lighting placement.
The next step is for board members to decide whether to move forward, and if so, which firms to move forward with.
“As a district, we are looking at ways in which we can develop our facilities in a cost-effective, efficient way that will benefit our students and the Greenfield community for years to come,” Gray said.
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the Greenfield Exempted Village Schools.