'Where would you like to sit on a 100 degree day?' by David Lias The Vermillion City Council has decided to replace the grandstand at the Prentis Park baseball field with seating that will have a very similar wooden design � even though it may cost approximately $13,000 more than rebuilding it with more modern materials.
Staff of Nohr Engineering inspected the grandstand and completed a preliminary cost estimate of replacing it with a wood structure.
The engineering firm estimated the replacement cost to be $82,608. That cost includes material, labor to rebuild, painting and priming, safety equipment rental to rebuild, partial demolition of the roof to reassemble later, total demolition of the old structure and disposal, contractor fees and construction of new concession stands and announcer's booth.
City staff also explored the possibility of replacing the condemned wooden structure with one made of concrete, aluminum and steel � similar to what is located at the ball field in Elk Point.
The cost of this second option is estimated at $69,000.
James Merrigan of the Vermillion Baseball Association told aldermen that the construction problems found with the old wooden grandstand can be repaired.
"The Vermillion Baseball Association would like to keep the wooden green grandstand as a piece of our historic baseball park," Merrigan wrote in a letter to the city council.
Merrigan told the aldermen at their Feb. 17 meeting that he had talked with four local contractors about the grandstand's problems. All three, he said, believe the structure can be repaired.
Merrigan reminded the city council that Nohr Engineering didn't only recommend the grandstand be torn down. It also stated that the present structure is "repairable, cost effective."
Merrigan, who operates a roofing company in Vermillion, stated the repairs could be made in approximately two weeks, with a cost of between $20,000 and $25,000.
"Where would you like to sit on a 100 degree day?" Merrigan asked. "Would you like to sit in a steel grandstand, or a wooden, covered grandstand?"
Dave Nelson of the city's park department said Nohr Engineering's inspections note that the concession stand must be torn down from the grandstand for repairs like Merrigan described to take place.
Nelson said for safety reason, a crane would also be required. That and other requirements likely would push the replacement cost higher
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than Merrigan's estimates.
Nelson also reminded the council of the serious consequences that could occur if proper procedures aren't followed to correct the problem.
"After the Legion tournament (last summer), I had no choice," he said. "I had two people come to me and say, 'You have to do something.' With the tournament, we had the most people we ever had in the stands, and they were moving.
"And that's when we talked to our engineers, and we had to find a structural engineer because we had to find out the heart of the problem," Nelson said.
After lengthy debate, the aldermen agreed to replace the structure with a wooden design that's very similar to the existing grandstand.
The existing structure will be closed to the public this baseball season. Bleachers will be brought to the field for seating.
"We wouldn't be able to start the demolition (of the old grandstand) until after the baseball season is over, because there's no place to set the roof," City Manager Jim Patrick said. "The roof will have to be set in the infield."
Alderman Kevin Annis suggested the old roof not be saved. "If you're going to build it all new, I don't know why you're going to put a part of an old roof back on it," he said.
The city council decided to include a bid alternate in the specifications for the grandstand design to include the option of constructing a new roof or using the old roof from the present grandstand.