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Newport-Mesa approves preliminary plan for athletic field upgrades

Newport-Mesa approves preliminary plan for athletic field upgrades
Davis School, as seen in 2008, could receive athletic field upgrades as part of a pending joint agreement between the city of Costa Mesa and the Newport-Mesa Unified School District. (Daily Pilot file photo)

The ball is now in the city of Costa Mesa’s court to move forward with upgrades to two Newport-Mesa Unified athletic fields since the school board approved proposed agreements Tuesday.

Trustees unanimously approved the suggested cooperative agreements, which specify that the city would contribute 100% of the costs for design and construction of field improvements at Kaiser Elementary and Davis Magnet schools.

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The agreements, which were drafted in collaboration between the city and NMUSD, will go to the City Council for consideration at a date yet to be determined.

“We will try to work with the city as much as possible to get an agreement with them that closes the deal so they can take it to the City Council as soon as possible,” Supt. Fred Navarro said. “I can’t say it’s going to be on a first run if they’ll accept it … It could come back to us.”

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The draft agreements state that the district would have priority use of the fields and parking lots on school days, including summer school, until 4 p.m., and for any district-approved events after 4 p.m. The city would have priority after school hours on weekdays, and on weekends. The city may also permit use of the fields for organized sports, educational or recreational activities.

Estimated costs for project designs are not to exceed $1 million for each school, the draft agreements states, and construction costs are undetermined.

A feasibility study for the projects conducted in 2016 by Ruhnau Ruhnau Clarke Architects estimated that preliminary construction costs would be $4.5 million at Davis and $3 million at Kaiser.

Improvements at both sites will include installation of permanent sports field lighting, security fencing and parking lot enhancements. Drainage and electrical upgrades will also be made, as well as enhancements to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act. At Kaiser, the natural grass turf will be upgraded, while Davis will get artificial turf.

Brett Eckles, who is the parent of a child attending Kaiser and is on the board of Costa Mesa United, which supports youth athletics, said the project has “been a long time coming.”

“The lights are so critical — not just the lights though — these things are just great opportunities for improvement for our community, especially with the growth in all the sports,” said Eckles, who is running for City Council. “I want to thank [the district] for doing what’s right for this community and our children.”

According to the proposed agreements, the city would act as the lead agency for compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act, while NMUSD will be the project manager in dealing with consultants and contractors for construction.

“The city is taking the lead on the CEQA process because it is their project — they’re paying for it,” said Kirk Bauermeister, NMUSD’s executive director of secondary education. “But we are hiring all the consultants, we’re hiring all the architects. We are the project manager because the project is on our property.”

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