QUINCY -- The Quincy School Board took a step Thursday morning toward new lights at Flinn Stadium that should be in place for the start of the 2017-18 school year.
Board members, meeting in special session, approved a resolution for an emergency health/life safety funding request after a safety concern discovered with two light poles closed the stadium earlier this week.
The resolution will cover work done this week by Shortridge Construction to remove two light poles at the stadium.
Todd Moore with Architechnics said work now will begin to put together a bid package as soon as possible for a replacement lighting system expected to cost $350,000 to $400,000.
"With the timing to put out bids, receive bids and get new poles, we're cutting it close to football season," Moore said. "We've got to move fast."
Superintendent Roy Webb said a district groundskeeper noticed some corrosion on light poles, raising safety concerns. Testing by a St. Louis firm found the bases of two of the eight poles had rusted "all the way through," and one had a 5-inch crack, Moore said. "The best thing was to get them down."
One pole was taken down Monday, and the second came down Tuesday morning.
With the poles removed, the stadium reopened in time for a regional soccer game on Tuesday night.
The poles and lights have been in place for 39 years.
"You don't worry about (the poles) rusting over the years on the outside, but they were rusting inside out. Water was getting down inside the poles which were not draining as intended," Moore said.
The remaining poles have thinned over the years, and the lights themselves have degraded – both potential safety issues but neither requiring immediate action. The existing lights also have a long "strike time," about 25 minutes after they're switched on, and don't provide as much light as needed.
"We can go back into Flinn with four new poles instead of eight and LED lighting," Moore said. "We could have double the light output for about half the energy cost."
With the emergency resolution approved, the next step will be for the district to file a health/life safety amendment for the new lighting system, which must be approved by the Illinois State Board of Education.
Moore said the new lighting project will be out to bid by the first week of June, with bids ready to review and approve at the June 28 School Board meeting.
New galvanized steel poles will need to be on site in mid-July and installed prior to mid-August.
"One concern will be events (in Flinn) this summer, but the only time you won't want kids on the field is when you're craning in new poles," Moore said. "That's a short period of time."