Plans move forward to build new school on softball field in downtown St. George

Posted at 9:55 PM, Jan 26, 2015

ST. GEORGE, Utah - Construction plans are going forward that will replace a softball field with an elementary school.

It’s a land sale that could mean some much needed revitalization for the neighboring Dixie Sun Bowl.

Last week the St George City Council approved the sale of Elk’s Field on 100 South. It’s where Washington County School District plans to build its newest elementary school. City spokesman Marc Mortensen said it’s a discussion they’ve been having for several years.

“The school district at the time was hoping for another location downtown for a new elementary school,” Mortensen said. “The city shares that same vision.”

Under the current plan, the city will sell the six acres of land, which Elk’s Field is on to the school district; the district in turn plans to sell the current East Elementary school to land-locked Dixie State University.

“It provides a good new educational setting in the downtown area for those people who live there,” said Larry Bergeson, superintendent for the school district. “It allows for the economic development of the downtown area to proceed at a more appropriate pace.”

Some residents had hoped the school would be built where the crumbling Sun Bowl sits. Mortensen said while that was a discussion they had with the school district, ultimately they felt it would be more cost effective to put it next door.

“Part of the conversation has always been, ‘what should we do with the sun bowl, was it going to go away, was it going to stay,’” Mortensen said.

Mortensen said currently there are no plans to demolish the rodeo stadium. It’s a venue that has a lot of history, but is only used for a handful of events throughout the year.

Mortensen said if it is kept, some of the funds from the land sale may go toward improvements. But mostly, the funds will help relocate the softball field and horseshoe pits to other area parks.

“I think it’ll be really good,” said horseshoe pit user Jim Bushman.  “Washington County is always needing new schools, so it’s probably a pretty good trade.”

School district officials say they don’t have official plans for the new school, but if things continue the way they’re laid out, the new elementary school would be done by 2016.