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February 18, 2020

Jamie Taylor/river news

Scott Lousier, a project architect with Kahler Slater who is working with the team from Rettler Corporation on designing the sports complex and dome, shows the committee samples of the various materials that will go into the construction of the connector building and storage building for the Hodag Dome.
Jamie Taylor/river news

Scott Lousier, a project architect with Kahler Slater who is working with the team from Rettler Corporation on designing the sports complex and dome, shows the committee samples of the various materials that will go into the construction of the connector building and storage building for the Hodag Dome.
1/9/2020 7:30:00 AM
Committee nears final design for dome, complex

Jamie Taylor
River News Reporter


The School District of Rhinelander capital projects ad hoc committee met for four hours Monday in an attempt to give the designers of the Hodag Sports Complex as much feedback as possible on a host of details ahead of the project going out for bids later this month.

Some of the details brought up by the members of the committee and school administrators were minor while others involved ensuring the complex and its air-supported dome will be as safe as possible for those who will be using them.

John Kneer, president of Rettler Corporation, the company the school board hired to oversee the construction of the complex, said the goal of the meeting was to iron out the final design of the plan before it is sent out to contractors who might be interested in bidding to do the construction work.

That step is scheduled to take place Jan. 21.

"We will have a bid opening on Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 2 o'clock," Kneer said. "That will give us time to open the bids, review them, a couple weeks to analyze them and make recommendations."

The timetable calls for a bid review meeting on March 2, and a board meeting March 16 to award the bids. A pre-construction meeting is set for March 25, with construction to begin as soon as frost is out of the ground.

"It is anticipated that the actual physical construction out on the field to begin probably some time in the middle of April, depending on the snow and frost conditions," Kneer said.

In response to a question from committee chair Mike Roberts, superintendent Kelli Jacobi said the school board doesn't normally approve finalized plans before they go out for bids, only which bids they will accept.

There will be contracts for general site construction, building construction and procurement packages for the synthetic turf for inside the dome and the adjacent practice field, sport flooring and equipment, it was explained.

The complex will be built in the open field between the high school and Mike Webster Stadium. The main entrance to the dome will be through an addition to the new concession/restroom building of the stadium.

The area where the complex will be located, which is prone to flooding, will be built up with 25,000 cubic yards of imported fill dirt with an underground drainage system that will help channel water to one of two storm sewers.

The dome itself will have a drainage trench surrounding it to handle the water that will flow off of it from rain or melting snow.

During the architectural review portion of the meeting, Scott Lousier, a project architect with Kahler Slater, presented the group with samples of the various materials that will be used in the construction of the dome connector addition to the concession stand as well as the storage building.

The storage building will be used to store equipment and other materials athletes will have to bring into and out of the dome for practice. The main electrical room as well as a separate room to house the controls for the back-up generator will keep the dome inflated in the event of a power failure.

Louiser also went through the plans for the interior of the lobby and office area that will lead to the entrance to the dome. The flooring the design team settled on is a high traffic carpet material that will be applied in tile form to allow for easy replacement of worn sections, it was explained.

Jacobi suggested that the ticket booth be an optional component of the plan.

"If the board were to decide that they aren't going to charge people to come to football games, soccer games, then we wouldn't have that need," Jacobi said. "For playoff things, we would have the need, but we can find a much simpler way."

"That gives us flexibility, depending on where the bid numbers come in, if we need to find places to cut," Roberts agreed.

"Overall, from the large scheme, it may not be sizable (in cost), but it would definitely be much more with the roof coming off (the addition) and the south wall coming out of the project if we need to get back on budget," Kneer said.

Jacobi also pointed out that the plan indicates the path leading to the dome from the high school would not be lighted. The current plan is to provide electrical service to where light poles would be placed for the varsity softball field, and the group spent a lot of time discussing lighting both fields so that lights could be aimed back at the path around the dome off of those poles.

The group agreed that idea would not only help with making that path safer for pedestrians, but also help with snow plowing operations in the winter.

"I'm concerned with the safety of our students, especially during the times of the year when it is dark by the time practices are done," Jacobi said.

The final decision on installation of the light poles will be made once the bids come back in or additional fundraising makes it financially possible.

An additional tweak in the design included the addition of a water point inside the dome to allow for cleaning the artificial turf.

In June, the board approved spending up to $5.7 million, to be made up of $2.25 million in maintenance budget savings ($750,000 for three years) and $3.45 million from the district's general fund, to pay for the dome. Private donations are being collected for the rest of the complex. Dave Heck of the Rhinelander Schools Foundation was in attendance at Monday's meeting and said more donations may come in and donors are anxious to see the project get underway.

Kneer also said that some changes have been made to the construction timetable that will push the opening of the dome back to Sept. 23, although a "soft opening" may be possible before then.

The timing of when the ground thaws, as well as ambient weather conditions, will be major factors.

He said work on the dome membrane, by St. Louis-based Arizon Building Systems ,is underway and it will be delivered to the site on Aug. 19.

It will take about 15 days to attach the membrane to the concrete grade beam and inflate it, he explained.

Athletic director Brian Paulson told the group that the high school softball and wrestling teams have already begun scheduling tournaments inside the dome.

The Rhinelander Common Council is expected to approve the site plan and Conditional Use Permit for the complex at its Jan. 13 meeting, however an agenda for that meeting has yet to be released.

Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at jamie@rivernewsonline.com.





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