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Pisgah Bears unlikely to play on home turf this fall

Pisgah Bears unlikely to play on home turf this fall

There’s a 1% chance football will be played at Pisgah Memorial Stadium come fall. That is according to an estimation by Haywood County Schools Maintenance Director Josh Mease. 

At a special called meeting Jan. 24, Mease and Associate Superintendent Trevor Putnam presented an update to the board regarding flood damage of Haywood County Schools property. 

There are nine areas that were damaged during the flooding from Tropical Storm Fred last August. These projects include the Canton Middle baseball field and softball field; Meadowbrook Elementary; Pisgah baseball, football and softball field; a culvert at Riverbend Elementary; Tuscola baseball field; and Central Haywood High School. 

Over the last several months, school staff have been working with FEMA to determine how much money is needed to rebuild. This involves a process of FEMA site inspections for each individual project, an estimation from FEMA for funds needed to rebuild and a chance for HCS to counter that offer if what FEMA puts forth is not enough. 

In the case of Haywood County Schools’ flood damage, almost every offer was far too low. Six of the nine projects came in far under cost, some of them to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, HCS staff worked with FEMA to receive enough money needed to rebuild, and FEMA has agreed to pay $5,867,105.92, up to this point. This number does not include costs for Meadowbrook and Central Haywood High School as those numbers have not been determined.

According to Mease, Central will likely have to relocate. PFA Architects out of Asheville are currently working on the process. 

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With money secured from FEMA, construction on many of the projects can begin soon. However, some projects will have to wait to begin rebuilding until flood mapping, flood permitting and no-rise studies can be completed. Part of the problem is that several structures damaged in the flood were not on the most current flood maps. 

According to FEMA, a permit is required before construction or development begins within any Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). Permits are required to ensure that proposed development projects meet the requirements of the NFIP and the community’s floodplain management ordinance.

The big question before the board Monday was whether to begin rebuilding Pisgah Memorial Stadium, immediately, in order to try and be ready for football season this fall, or, wait to begin the rebuilding process until flood mapping and the no-rise study have been completed. The same questions applied to other Pisgah sports facilities. 

If HCS were to move forward in repairing the field before flood permitting and permitting came back with the determination the stadium couldn’t stay where it is now, the school system would be out the money it had already spent on repairs. 

“It is proving very, very difficult for us to be ready in the fall,” said Putnam. “I can’t, in good conscience, recommend a move forward in an attempt to play this fall, without that flood permit.”

However, Putnam noted that the flood permit is not the silver bullet, it doesn’t mean flood damage won’t happen again. A flood permit simply gives the school system permission to build back in the same location. 

Ultimately, after lengthy discussion about possible solutions, the board decided to wait on mapping and permitting. Jim Francis made the motion to pursue any permits and surveys needed to expedite the repairs or rebuilding any of the flood damaged fields while also looking at alternatives or alternate locations that may be necessary if the permits do not come through as we would like them to. Jimmy Rogers seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

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