Creston School Board passed a controversial motion to renovate the Creston High School gymnasium by adding handrails to the bleachers.
Boardmembers Galen Zumbach motioned and Ron Dunphy seconded for the handrails to be added by Experts Edge of Kalona. The motion passed with a vote of 3-2. Boardmembers Rich Flynn and Rick Fyock voted no.
The motion consisted of two sections of the Creston High School gymnasium bleachers having two rows of handrails installed. One section is on the visitor’s side and the other is on the home side. Both sections will be closest to the west exits.
“What concerned me was when I saw ... two men carry an elderly woman from the stands because she couldn’t navigate the steps. So, to me, what would happen had she fallen?” said Zumbach.
There were three companies that bid on the project. Experts Edge bid the rails at $8,266.90 and the steps at $6, 715, totaling $14,981.90 to install handrails in the entire gym. Boland Recreation of Marshalltown bid $4,800 per side, and $5,000 for labor per side, totaling $19,600 for the whole gym. BR Athletic Facility Products and Services bid $2,734 per aisle, totaling $16,404.
“Two of these three companies came out and physically looked at (the bleachers),” said Gary Briley, Creston School District maintenance director.
Briley also said maintenance needs to be done on the bleachers that would call for an additional $5,000 to $6,000. He said having the company repair the bleachers at the time of installing the handrails would be cheaper overall because there would not be a second trip charge for the company coming to Creston.
“I would go with the two low bids,” Briley said. “Both those companies traveled out here and looked at things, inspected things, took pictures. The highest bid, they didn’t. They talked to me on the phone.”
Experts Edge will also widen the aisle so those sections of bleachers meet the standard set to comply with Iowa code. However, widening the aisle and installing the handrails will remove 56 seats from the bleachers. The bleachers currently hold approximately 1,000 people.
“I don’t see any problem in doing it,” said Fyock. “At the time (of the meeting), they said it wouldn’t be up to Iowa code and that the people that would be installing them would have us sign a waiver. And, that just bothered me.”
According to Briley, to be up to standard according to Iowa code, the whole gym must have handrails installed. However, because the board passed the motion for partial handrail installment, Experts Edge will require disclaimers to be signed stating the school district understands the work will not be up to Iowa code.
Fyock wasn’t the only one to voice his opinion at the meeting. According to Flynn, violating Iowa code is violating the law. Zumbach, on the other hand, said it is not against the law to violate Iowa code.
“The way they were proposing to do it, where you’re doing part of the job and not all of it, that’s not to Iowa code,” said Flynn. “Like Mr. Briley said, we’re going to violate Iowa code if we don’t do the whole thing. … It kind of raises a red flag, where the company that is doing the work is making us sign a waiver.”
Briley said according to previous Iowa code, Creston High School gym meets the standard, and therefore was grandfathered into the current code. However, once any form of work is done to the gym, it will no longer meet the current standard and must be brought up to the current standard.
“If we don’t do it right, and somebody gets hurt, they can come back against that company, too,” said Flynn.