Published: Jul 10, 2012 03:46 PM
Modified: Jul 10, 2012 03:51 PM
Athens Drive boosters pressure WCPSS
Jag Club would sue if stadium repairs aren’t in next bond issue
Athens Drive High School boosters have hired a lawyer and plan to take legal action if the Wake County Public School System does not act soon to repair Williams Stadium. The Jag Club says it has waited long enough for renovations to the aging facility, which has too many safety problems to be ignored much longer.The stadium, which hosts football, soccer, lacrosse and track and field events, hasn’t had major improvements since it opened in 1978. Former booster president and current Jag Club adviser Karin Evanoff says she hopes a lawsuit will not be necessary. Boosters want the repairs to be a high priority on the next school construction bond.“That’s our last-ditch effort,” Evanoff said. “That’s not what we want to do, but if it happens to be that if Athens is looked over again, and again and again, then that’s our only option.“If I start to hear from our reps … that Athens is again not on that list as a priority, then the gloves come off.”The Jag Club has been approved by Raleigh City Council – which owns the land where Williams Stadium sits – to accept WCPSS funding for renovations. Athens Drive’s booster club thought it was going to have $500,000 to start its renovations in February, after that money was left unbudgeted when the board approved a reallocation of savings to new projects. Despite being discussed, no action was taken to allocate that money.Boosters have since hired attorney Asa Bell Jr. Bell did not return calls for comment, but Evanoff said grounds for a lawsuit would be the inequality of Williams Stadium to other WCPSS high school facilities and its noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.“The Jag Club now has decided that either we are going to be recognized and improvements (will be made) to our handicap accessibility, our lighting, parking lot and emergency access to our field. Unless those are recognized and dealt with, then we will have no other option other than to sue the school board,” said Evanoff. “We can’t continue to allow a stadium to fall apart the way it is and to have family members and our own students not be able to access our events at our schools.”“We don’t want to go down that path … but if it gets to a point now where it’s a safety issue – which it is – then I have to protect my students. And if protecting my students means I’m going to have to file a lawsuit, then that’s what I’ll have to do.”According to Chief Facilities and Operations Officer Don Haydon, the bond referendum won’t be until this spring at the earliest.Haydon said presentations to the board’s facilities committee have started. Those include projects for new schools and renovations for existing schools. The board of education will review the staff proposals and either approve or adjust them. The referendum will be finalized by the board of county commissioners.Where Athens Drive ends up on the bond will be up to the school board.“That’s a decision the board’s going to have to make, is where that falls in,” Haydon said. “It’s just a matter of where the line gets drawn and what the board sees as priorities for the project.”“It would just be conjecture at this point,” Haydon said of what WCPSS would do if sued by the Jag Club.Total renovations were last estimated at more than $7.4 million, but that amount may be higher after the Raleigh City Council, citing environmental concerns given the stadium’s proximity to Lake Johnson, made stipulations. The stadium’s parking lot could use only permeable pavement, and a field house would need a pump for proposed water and sewer lines to take it uphill and away from the lake.