New sports complex for Northridge eyed

MIDDLEBURY— A new sports complex could be in store for Northridge High School, according to administrators at Middlebury Community Schools.

Northridge High School and Northridge Middle School share one set of athletics facilities and a gymnasium, resulting in space constraints, according to athletics director Dave Harms.

To that end, the district is generating plans for a new sports complex.

 “The NHS athletic department is pleased to receive information about proposed plans to build a new football/track stadium, a new baseball/softball complex — all with turf, with the possibility of a new gymnasium at NHS,” a recent tweet posted on the high school athletic department’s Twitter page stated.

The former Northridge High School building, which is now the middle school, opened in 1971 when Middlebury and Jefferson high schools were consolidated.

The school district’s sports complex hasn’t had an update in 30 years. The current football stadium was built in 1974 and the last facility to be built was the softball/baseball complex in 1988.

“When those facilities were built, it was built for a high school of 800 people and now we have over 1,400 people at the high school and we have over 800 people at the middle school, which now puts us in a situation where almost three times as many people are using that field than it was originally built for,” Harms said.

Middlebury Community Schools Superintendent Jane Allen said the NHS football team practices on the lawn of the high school since it doesn’t have a practice facility.

In addition, the varsity and junior varsity teams for baseball and softball are transported to the Middlebury Little League ball diamonds and pay to use the field for each game, she said.

“It’s really ridiculous that we aren’t even near our campus for both junior varsity and varsity for baseball and softball,” she said. “For us, (the upgrade) is a need that’s been long overdue.”

Harms said the proposal will have no tax impact above the 2015 rate. If it does, the district won’t move forward with it.

The cost of the proposal hasn’t been determined as administrators and coaches are still discussing the measure, school officials said.

The new facilities would be built on land north and east of the high school, property the district already owns, Harms said.

“It’s a need not only athletically, but also academically as far as physical education space,” he said.

A new gymnasium would be the second phase of the project, Harms said.

The schools have been sharing a gymnasium at the middle school. The district’s new high school, built in 2008, has a field house where physical education classes are held. It’s not a competition gym.

“It’s a relatively small space for the size of our high school,” Harms said. “So, it’s definitely something we’re going to have to look at also.”

Allen said the district will seek the public’s input by holding meetings prior to presenting the proposal to the school board. She said the district hopes to present the idea to the school board by November.

“I think people need to understand what exactly this is and that it’s not going to be some extravagant Taj Mahal field facility. It’ll be something we feel we need for our students that fits our community and our schools,” Allen said.

Those who have questions about the proposal are encouraged to call the administrative center at 574-825-9425 or the Northridge Athletics Department at 574-825-7667.

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