Construction upgrades begin on varsity softball field
UPDATED: Construction to improve the Scappoose School District's girls' varsity softball field began Monday, Jan. 8.
The project involves construction of a concession stand and restroom facility connected to an existing storage unit at the field, which is located near the Scappoose School District Office and Otto Petersen Elementary School.
A 2016 audit of the athletic program revealed the girls' softball team did not have access to resources equitable to the boys' baseball team, a violation of Title IX federal anti-gender discrimination regulations. The team did not have the same access to permanent restrooms or concession stands, the audit found.
Interim Superintendent Ron Alley has previously mentioned that the importance of the upgrades goes beyond compliance with federal regulations.
"This project has been put off for some time and the board and I want to complete this project for our student athletes and provide a nice facility for the district and community," Alley stated in an email to the Spotlight.
The board of directors approved a plan to keep the varsity team at its current field and pay for improvements to the site last June, and received several cost estimates for the construction over the summer months.
Parents and community members in March expressed excitement and relief on social media that the upgrades would come to fruition.
Scappoose High School Athletic Director Robert Medley said the work being completed is a major step forward towards providing equitable resources for student athletes.
"Well, for us its a great step forward. I'm excited. I've seen pictures and diagrams and all that I'm excited for whats its going to be," Medley said.
He added that the success or performance of any athletic team, male or female, should not dictate what resources are made available to those students.
"What I'm saying is that win, loss, tie has nothing to do with the fact that our athletes deserve to have equality. All students deserve to have equality and deserve to have these nice things. Its just the right the thing to do," Medley said.
In November, the school board approved the use of up to $100,000 from the district's cell phone tower funds to pay for the upgrades.
A series of architectural concept designs for the concession stand were completed and displayed in the school district office in early December, shortly before Alley approved construction contracts.
Mitch Neilson, the district's finance director, said that because the contracts were below $100,000 each, they do not require board approval and can be implemented and signed by the superintendent. The total of approved contracts is $95,533.
Construction of the building will be done by Double D Contracting Co., based in St. Helens. Sewer connections and hookup work will be completed by Five Star Builders Inc., a Banks-based company.
The architectural renderings show two single-room restrooms in the rear of the building, a small food storage space, food preparation areas and a rolling window where concessions would be served. The structure will be built directly next to an existing storage space and batting cages.
The goal is to complete construction of the concession stands by the end of March so they can be used at the start of the softball season in spring.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comments from the Scappoose High School athletic director.