It’s game time, and Enumclaw needs to choose a play.
Will the community approve the upcoming bond and fund a new sports stadium? Punt to vote on a small bond down the road? Or decline to support the bond at all, citing too-high taxes and frustrations with the school district over how it’s funded past projects?
The decision on the $253 million bond will be made will be made on Feb. 14.
The Courier-Herald has published several articles about the bond, and the Enumclaw School District has hosted three bond chats to showcase its needs and answer questions.
But unless you attended the chats, watched the district’s two-minute project highlight videos online, or routinely visit Byron Kibler Elementary, the high school auditorium, or the Pete’s Pool stadium, you may not have a good idea what these buildings and facilities are like and how their conditions can affect students and their ability to learn, perform, and compete.
So as the countdown to Election Day nears zero, here’s the last of a three-part series to give you an in-depth look at what conditions are like inside ESD’s oldest elementary school, the high school performance space, and its historic football field.
PLAYING OLD SCHOOL
Enumclaw School District’s sole stadium — known affectionately as Pete’s Pool by locals — is around 90 years old, having been constructed in the 1930s through a partnership between Enumclaw residents and the Federal Works Projects Administration.
Enumclaw High began playing football on the field in the ’60s, and has since added soccer, track, and lacrosse for both middle and high school athletes. While local residents have more than a few grass fields around the city to utilize for various sports, Pete’s Pool is the only turf field available to them, as well as the only field with lighting at night.
The city of Enumclaw owns the stadium, but an interlocal agreement stipulates that ESD is in charge of maintaining it.
Pete’s Pool has received a few upgrades in the last decade or so — speakers the announcers have been modernized, netting and lights above the stadium seats have been replaced to keep birds out and the bleachers lit, and cameras were added to the announcer’s box during the COVID-19 pandemic so games can be watched at home.
And maybe most importantly, the district replaced the field’s turf back in 2011, and is getting read to replace it again, whether or not a new stadium is slated to be built.
According to District Director of Facilities, Operations, Athletics Phil Engebretsen, the district uses funds collected from field rentals every year to fund new turf.
Beyond those repairs and upgrades, though, almost everything else about the stadium and the student facilities are worn down, cramped, or lack basic features or amenities.
On the field — or rather, over it — Engebretsen said it’s “very common” for students and coaches to arrive for a practice or game to find a few stadium lights out.
“Because the lights are so old… we’re constantly having to replace them, which requires us to rent a lift to do that,” he continued. “And the electrical hookups for them continue to cause us problems.”
And around the field, there’s no fencing or any other barrier keeping spectators off the gridiron. That’s required to have games, so the district has to rent fencing often.
For spectators, seating is at a premium, especially for football games.
“If you fit within 17 inches, [capacity is] about 950 people,” Engebretsen said, noting that’s not up to current code. “It fills up for football games, every time… the only way we can accomodate for that is to bring in five sets and line them around the whole end zone.”
There are also no handrails in the seating area to help people, especially older school sports fans, navigate the bleachers, and ADA accessibility is lacking. Additionally, seating is low and doesn’t provide optimal sight lines to the field.
And while nobody goes underneath the bleachers, it’s not uncommon for people to drop phones and wallets down there, requiring staff to find them. Beyond locating the items in the cramped and dark space (the district had to jury-rig a lighting system), the fire system is also located down there. Getting to it quickly is difficult, as ESD stores more than a few things under the bleachers, and the room where the controls are is filled with uncovered and ripped fiberglass insulation.
Located right next to the seats are the bathrooms and concession stand.
The concession stand is about as bare-bones as you can get — some open counter space, and a sink.
The bathrooms aren’t much better, with just a few stalls and urinals for the spectators.
“It’s pretty limited when the stadium is full with a couple thousand people,” Engebretsen said, adding that the concession and bathrooms lines mix and crowd together, making that small area by the field congested with people.
Students don’t fare much better, either Hornets or the teams that come to call.
Issues begin at the stairs that lead down to the locker rooms.
“This is a public facility, right? All of this is open. It’s open, all the time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s not uncommon, sadly, that we’ll have coaches or kids that are coming here to a practice and find things,” Engebretsen said. “There’s an influx of homeless. We’ve seen needles and other things.”
The locker rooms themselves are dark and cramped; the Hornets, especially the football teams, have to take turns using the locker rooms because the space can’t fit all the athletes at a time, Engebretsen said.
Girls soccer, he added, hardly even use the locker rooms.
“The girls go in there, but it’s not designed for a girls’ locker room,” he said. “They just rather be outside, when there’s no real space for them.”
And maybe it’s even more commentary on the facility’s antiquity that, despite having multiple points of entry and a full set of keys, Engebretsen was unable to access the Hornet’s locker rooms while providing The Courier-Herald with a tour.
Storage for sports equipment is also a problem, as all equipment is tucked away in a single mental container, making quick access difficult.
UPPING THE GAME
A new stadium, if approved by district voters, would be built between Sunrise Elementary and the Boise Creek Six Plex.
Maybe one of the biggest differences a new stadium would make for student athletes would be the additional practice/game space.
“It would keep us from having conflicts. For example, Monday nights are JV and CT football, but it’s also supposed to be practice for girls soccer,” Engebretsen said. “Right now, we have to move or shift or not have practices.”
This doesn’t just help resolve conflicts between school sports teams, but community teams that want to use a field or private events that would like to rent the area out.
The current stadium currently lacks a running track around the field; a new stadium would include a synthetic track surface and field event areas.
A new stadium would also improve seating for 3,000-plus spectators, and all seats would be under cover; access to bathrooms and concessions would be available on both sides of the field; additional security and safety measures would be installed (like cameras and access to the field); power and water would be accessible on the field for hydration and other athletic or event needs; upgrade locker rooms for Hornets and away teams; increase storage space for equipment; improve parking; and more.
Having the stadium built by Sunrise Elementary also means students can walk to the field, meaning the district no longer has to bus in athletes (or parents having to drive their kids).
HISTORY WILL BE PRESERVED
No matter what happens with a new stadium, ESD plans to keep Pete’s Pool up and running.
“If there is a desire from community members… to hold special events or historic rivalry games at Pete’s we would support that interest,” Engebretsen said.