POMONA - Fears that construction of the Diamond Ranch High School athletic stadium might be delayed have apparently not been realized.

The project will soon be back on track and the first phase of work completed in time for the start of football season in the fall.

Pomona Unified School District administrators expressed concerns recently linked to improvements needed to turn an athletic field at Diamond Ranch High into a modest stadium.

Part of the problem is related to hilly terrain, but the primary challenge involves the placement of bleachers between several concrete structures near the edge of the field.

The structures house ventilation systems for classrooms located below them, Superintendent Richard Martinez said.

District personnel learned the bleachers, which would accommodate fans of visiting teams, can't be built on the particular site. The additional concrete needed to build the seating plus the weight of audiences could create integrity problems in the existing concrete work, Martinez said.

To build bleachers in that location would require the removal of all the existing concrete.

Such an approach "would require more engineering and more money," Martinez said.

School Board President Roberta Perlman said removing the structures and concrete work would be a major project in itself that could be more than $1 million, something the school district can't afford.

Diamond Ranch High parent William Bryan said he is concerned about the timely completion of the stadium as student athletes are in need of good playing fields, said Bryan.

In addition, juniors on Diamond Ranch High School's football team have been looking forward to playing on their home field senior year, he said.

If the district encountered obstacles involving the placement of bleachers, then the district should move forward with the rest of the stadium project.

"One of the priorities should be to give Diamond Ranch at least adequate (athletic) facilities," Bryan said.

Diamond Ranch High's fields are deteriorated and lack lighting, he said. The latter presents another problem for students.

To prepare for night games the team travels to Lorbeer Middle School or Ganesha High School, which lengthens students' days.

In Bryan's son's case, "He's not getting home until 10 o'clock," Bryan said, and once home he must complete homework assignments.

"We have to put the kids first," Bryan said.

Having the stadium completed in time for the coming football season would be ideal, but if that can't happen the district should focus on completing key elements that will allow students to have use of the field, he said.

School district representatives have been working with the Department of General Service Division of the State Architect, which oversees design and construction of K-12 schools and community colleges.

The school district has proposed moving the seating so it is all located along the southern side of the school's field.

The proposal received preliminary approval and district administrators are cautiously optimistic the proposed plan will receive final approval, Martinez said.

"We want to see it (in writing). We want to read it," Martinez said.

Plans call for having a field, track, lighting, score board, temporary restrooms, a public address system and improvements required to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act ready in August as part of the first phase of the two-phase project, he said.

A portion of the bleachers will be in place at that time but additional seating will be added as part of the second phase that will include permanent restroom facilities, a press box and other improvements by fall 2014, Martinez said.

In fall 2011 the Pomona Unified School District Board of Education began taking steps leading to the construction of modest athletic stadiums at Garey, Diamond Ranch and Pomona high schools.

The goal is to have facilities similar to those at Ganesha High School.

The improvements would be paid using funds from Measure PS that Pomona Unified voters approved in the 2008.

Construction plans for Garey and Pomona high schools are on track, said Leslie Barnes, the district's assistant superintendent for businesses services and chief financial officer.


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