Still Recovering From Ike, Galveston Ponders A $35 Million High School Stadium

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Illustration courtesy GISD
​The residents of Galveston Island, still trying to recover from Hurricane Ike, have a decision to make: whether a $34.9 million new multipurpose stadium is worth an approximate 11 cents pday tax increase.

The new stadium, proposed by the Galveston Island Independent School District, would replace their current 61-year old stadium called Kermit Courville.

A political action committee knows as PASS, People Advocating Success for Students, is working to spread support for GISD's bond referendum on May 8.

"I think that after 61 years its time to rebuild that venue and create an excitement that is no longer visible in our community," PASS Committee Chair, Johnny Smecca tells Hair Balls.

The tax increase would be about 11 cents per day, or about three dollars a month, for a home assessed at $100,000 with a homestead exemption, Smecca said.

"To put in context that's less than a cheeseburger a month," he said.

The new stadium would include a full University Interscholastic League track giving GISD the opportunity to hold UIL-sponsored events in track and field as well as football, Farrow said. It would also hold other school events such as graduations, band competitions, dance competitions and concerts.

"It will be used by different groups than GISD. It is multipurpose so others could use it too," Johnston Farrow, GISD spkesman said.

GISD superintendent Lynne Cleveland said she has seen both positive and negative responses to the bond proposal throughout the community.

"There are quite a few people who think it's important and then those who do not want the tax increase -- the vote is all about letting the community decide if they want a new stadium or not," Cleveland said.

Smecca said he feels a multipurpose center is something lacking from the current Galveston community.

"I think that Galveston obviously has so many natural beauties and resources that are provided for community. We tend to forget about the things that also make the community very attractive to families and citizens -- those are facilities and venues that families in the community can come together and be a part of," Smecca said.

Some features of the stadium include seating for 8,000 people, new turf and drainage system, parking for 800 cars, four air-conditioned buildings -- one on each corner -- housing concession stands, restrooms and ticket booths, among various other amenities.

Though the current stadium was closed after receiving water damage from Hurricane Ike, plans for a new stadium have been in the works for over five years, Cleveland said.

The school district decided to form plans to build a new stadium instead of renovating the old Kermit Courville one because renovations would have cost over $20 million due to fulfilling Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, which the stadium currently does not meet, Farrow said.

"The new site would be raised to a higher level and built with concrete instead of reinforced steel in attempt to cut down on damage that might be sustained during a hurricane," Farrow said. "The highest flood level in Galveston was about 12 feet; the structure would be up past that."

The land under the new stadium would also be raised 13 feet to meet FEMA regulations require a building of its size to be at least 11 feet above sea level, Farrow said.

Getting the public to vote yes will take a lot of educating, Smecca said.

"We are trying to make sure that the public understands the project and what it entails and the cost to each citizen," Smecca said. "Things don't always go as planned at first. I believe there are a lot of families who are young and looking for something to hold on to in Galveston and we believe those people will come out a vote."

Though the old stadium may be deficient, Galveston residents do not want to let go of its name.

"People have been wondering what is going to happen to the Kermit Courville name. He was a famous African American coach in Galveston. He went to an African American high school here during segregation and then went on to become a coach and help with integration," Farrow said.

If the bond passes, construction will start immediately, with a plan for the stadium to open for the 2012-2013 school year, Farrow said. The new stadium would be built on a 20-acre lot already owned by the district on 83rd street and the Seawall.

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