Allen Field is stepping up its game

By NANCY ZEMAN nzeman@prairiepress.net
Posted 2/17/20

John P. Allen Field is getting a major facelift, following action by the Paris 95 school board during its February meeting Monday, Feb. 10.

Allen Field, once home to the Paris Tigers football …

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Allen Field is stepping up its game

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John P. Allen Field is getting a major facelift, following action by the Paris 95 school board during its February meeting Monday, Feb. 10.

Allen Field, once home to the Paris Tigers football program which moved to the new high school five years ago, will add a baseball field, a full-size basketball court, updated tennis courts as well as a pickle ball court, remodeled bathrooms in the field house, a resurfaced track and a renovated home seating area.

The plans have been under study by the Paris 95 board, administrators, athletic director Mick Roberts, maintenance director Jerry Thurman and Chip Keys representing the Paris Junior League Football Association.

Keys and the JFL group have already begun their in-kind work at the field, Roberts reported, with the removal of the old ticket booth at the main gate on Buena Vista as well as beginning work on removing the north and south bleachers on the home (west) side of the field. The remainder of that work will have to wait until the weather improves, he said.

Excavating work at the tennis courts is well under way, Thurman said. There will be four newly renovated courts as well as the addition of a pickle ball court, he added.

Larson said the pickle ball court was specifically requested by local residents who play during the winter at The REC.

Mayo Middle School will now have its own baseball field, located east of the tennis courts, Roberts said. Home plate will be located in the southeast area of the field while centerfield will be northwest just off Edgar Street approximately 285 feet straightaway from home.

The team previously played at the Paris American Legion fields.

Mayo principal Kyle Shay said the new field’s location also allows for the school’s physical education classes to utilize it as well as community, travel and local teams. Board member Beetle Bailey noted the public is also welcome to use the new field once it is completed.

The original intent of the tennis court renovation was to also include a half-court basketball area, but that became impossible due to space limitations.

Thurman noted the area south of the present tennis courts is an area where a full-size basketball court can be placed and accessible to the public.

Roberts reported the 20-year-old track at Allen Field deteriorated quickly over the last couple of years and the long jump and other areas are also in need of repair. He said the asphalt is showing through in the first and second lanes — the most used — in several places.

Bailey noted the JFL, Mayo physical education classes and the Mayo boys and girls track teams aren’t the only ones who utilize the track.

“There are a lot of people in the community who walk or run on the track,” he said.

The board previously awarded the contract to renovate the track at the January meeting. Roberts said work can begin when the weather improves and he has already moved the one home meet for Mayo track so not to interfere with the renovation.

The board voted to authorize bids to renovate the tennis courts at Allen Field and construct a basketball court north of the fieldhouse.

Larson said the 1 percent sales tax receipts are paying for the projects.

The final project to be undertaken by the school district is the addition of a more secure entrance on the east side of Mayo Middle School.

Shay noted Mayo is the only school in the district that does not have a double entrance to protect its students, faculty and staff. Presently, if someone is buzzed in on the east side, “It’s a straight shot around the corner to the office,” he said.

The proposal is to move the school’s main entrance to the east side.

“Anyone who comes to the west side and requests entrance will be asked to walk to the east entrance,” Larson explained.

To enter the school, a visitor must be buzzed in one door then provide a drivers license to be scanned once inside the vestibule. The system used by the school will determine if the visitor has any warrants, is a predator or under an order of protection to name a few. If the visitor is approved, he or she will receive a visitor tag and then report to the office.

The work by Midwest Restoration will include special glass and other protections.

“We take the safety of all our students and staff very seriously,” Larson emphasized.

Larson said some of the memorials presently located near the east door will have to be moved but will remain in the same general area and will be done in a professional and respectful way.