A final plan to remove the asphalt surface at Irving Elementary School and replace it with a soccer field and new playground will likely be approved in January.

That should come as welcome news to the Irving school community that’s been clamoring to have that blacktop surface at the corner of Ridgeland and Harvard removed for years.

The District 97 Board of Education looks poised to approve a final plan early next year that includes a soccer field, new playground and equipment, and possibly a larger parking lot space. The work would be done over the summer.

The Irving PTO has been working on a plan to remove the drab paved surface since 2006. D97, working with its architects, have recently come up with several options that closely mirror the PTO’s master plan.

At D97’s board Nov. 13 meeting, members settled on three draft plans, all of which include the turf field and new playground. There will still be some portion of the blacktop remaining, which is not uncommon at other schools, the board and D97 administrators said.

Two of the draft plans calls for a larger, newly built teacher parking lot on the north end of the blacktop near Harvard Street. A 180-by-120 foot soccer takes up much of the south portion of the surface along Ridgeland. Depending on the scenario, the newly redone playground either stays put or shifts to the corner of Ridgeland and Harvard. Option two is similar but with a larger field. The other option locates the soccer field on the opposite site of the blacktop.

The cost for each option is around $1 million. The board and administration also discussed the possibility of having lights added to the field.

The addition of lights would be an added cost.

The board ultimately couldn’t settle on where and how those lights would be placed and scrapped that idea from the draft plans.

The board is scheduled to finalize a plan at its Jan. 22, meeting. Irving parents have been pushing the board and administration to start work on the Irving Schoolyard plan since last spring. The work is expected to be completed by next August in time for the start of school.

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

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