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Catholic High expansion plans

Catholic High School is moving forward with plans to expand the athletic field.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Catholic High School is moving forward with plans to expand the athletic field.

Neighbors originally voiced concerns that the new sports complex would spill over into the buffer zone and impact their properties, but the two sides come to a compromise.

The designs have changed to make the neighbors more comfortable that the plans won't wipe out the woods behind their homes. Catholic High School Principal Steve Straessle says, "We want the neighbors to help us pick out the vegetation, and I think that will really improve what they see in their backyard."

David Rieger lives near the athletic facility and was worried it would take away some of the privacy of the people who live there. But now, the school and the architect are moving the entire project 30 feet south, out of the buffer zone, and promise to replace trees and landscaping to keep the green view. "The architect and the principal were real positive in getting us information and making those changes."

Straessle says they've been great neighbors for 52 years and intend to be great neighbors from here on out. "We wanted to hear what the neighbors had to say about it, and they expressed concerns. I think we've eliminated those concerns and worked together. It's one of those stories where two sides got together and made things work very well."

Straessle says these changes are a good compromise everyone can be happy with.” It’s going to be a great thing for Catholic High, and it's a great thing for the neighborhood, and we're excited about it."

Rieger says once the neighbors voiced their opinions, the school set up community meetings to reassure them that the new athletic field would be positive for the school and the neighborhood. "It'll be great. I hope to get season tickets for free to all the events."

Rieger says the neighbors are just pleased the school is including them in the process. "We're all pretty good neighbors and the high school wanted to maintain that relationship."

Construction starts on the field in May and most of the work will be ready in time for school in the fall.

Catholic High is also moving forward with other major renovations. The first phase is the expansion of the athletic field, but the sports complex is just one part of Catholic's $15 million makeover.

Straessle says the inside of the building is going to be renovated from top to bottom over the next three years.
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