Mount Vernon Residents Discuss Future of Historic Football Field

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

MOUNT VERNON, Iowa - School leaders in Mount Vernon what to know what they should do about the district's historic football field. The field has been a topic of discussion for years, and now the district's new superintendent wants to know what the public thinks about it as he plans for the future. Superintendent Gary O'Malley has organized a series of four meetings about the district's facilities, including the football field. Nothing was off limits during Wednesday's discussion. "No recommendations at this time, no options on the table, no presentation. It's not a debate, it's really a conversation," O'Malley said. At the heart of Wednesday's conversation is the historic football facility on 1st Street. Over time students have moved into different buildings, and the field sits across town from the campus. Despite the changes over the years, the field holds a special place in the hearts of many. Some who live in the city said it isn't any ordinary field; kids have been playing on it for decades. "I grew up in Mount Vernon, so the football field is kind of iconic," said Mount Vernon Business Owner Mike Smith. District officials said the aging football field needs some attention. "Some of the things that are needing to be looked at are our bleacher situation -- our bleachers are getting up there in age, as well as just the overall use of the facility. Some of the facility isn't within the control of the school district anymore," said Mount Vernon Activities Director Joe Wallace. Meeting participants talked about the benefits of keeping the current facility or building new. "I'm not against a whole new complex; I'm just saying the field is already there," said one meeting participant. "I guess if you had to pinpoint me down right now I'd be leaning towards repairing and maintaining what we have now for the five to ten year lifespan maybe and then adding another complex after that," Smith said. The superintendent said he wants to understand what the community thinks before making any future recommendations to the board. The district is holding three more public meetings on March 5, April 9 and May 7 from 5 - 7 p.m. Those topics include sharing with Cornell, building an activities field on campus and adding a high school auditorium.
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