Storm shelter completion anticipated

Robert Smith
Jeff Lay

BARNSDALL - Anticipation is running high for the planned completion of the local school district’s new storm shelter for elementary school students.

The solid-concrete shelter building, which will also have a concession stand function during Barnsdall football games, will be FEMA-rated. It is one element in a bond project with a construction budget of some $4.7 million.

Jeff Lay, superintendent of Barnsdall Public Schools, said in a recent interview that even with rainy weather and flooding in northeast Oklahoma during the spring, the storm shelter/concession stand building remains on target for completion by August.

“Parents who have their kids in any school want to make sure their kids are safe,” Lay said. The concrete storm shelter will have a capacity of 275 people. There will be four rooms and the doorways between them will be open so that people can move freely between rooms. The building will also have a concrete cap on it. On top of that will be a metal press box facility.

“I hope we never have to use this,” Lay said, “but what a peace of mind that we have it if we need it.”

Barnsdall has about 225 elementary school students and 25 elementary school staff members, he said.

The new storm shelter/press box building will have Americans with Disabilities Act compliant bathrooms on the south side of the building. Handicapped parking will be just out the south door from the restrooms, he said.

The restrooms will be an important addition to Barnsdall’s hospitality offering for guests at football games. Last season, guests had to make a lengthy trek across the football field to a school building, or they had to use a portable toilet in the parking lot above the football field. Either way, the accommodations were somewhat Spartan for community events attended by a wide range of age groups.

Another element of the bond project that is underway is an 11,000-square-foot fieldhouse just west of the school district’s academic buildings. This facility, to be called the Barnsdall Public Schools Health and Fitness Building, will feature a weight room, a wrestling/cheerleading room with mats, two dressing rooms, coaches offices and other training equipment, Lay said.

The district is also planning 45 new parking spaces north of the fieldhouse.

There are to be sidewalks around the fieldhouse and a new four-level ramp to help people walk up the hillside from the fieldhouse to the top level where the concession stand/storm shelter and additional parking are located.

The new fieldhouse will likely be completed several months after the storm shelter, Lay said.

“I’m thinking spring break, realistically,” he said.

“It’s been a long process,” Lay added, mentioning it had been some 14 months since passage of the bond issue. “So we are ready to see buildings going up instead of just bulldozers pushing the ground.”

The budget for the bond project includes $3.9 million for new construction (waterline for sprinkler system, fieldhouse, concession/restrooms/press box, storm water drainage systems) and another $800,000 for campus remodels (roof repairs, Fine Arts, Student Activity Center, elementary flooring and a covered walkway).