Under construction: Groundbreaking ceremony held for Eureka High’s new $20 million gymnasium

Eureka High held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new $20 million gymnasium, expected to be completed sometime in the Fall of 2021. (Andrew Butler — Times-Standard)
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The construction of Eureka High’s new $20 million gymnasium is underway.

Eureka City Schools Board of Trustees members, Eureka High’s administration, students and a handful of alumni and community members gathered midday Friday to ceremonially break ground on Eureka High’s new gym which will keep the name Jay Willard Gymnasium and is expected to be completed sometime in Fall, 2021.

The new 34,000 square foot complex is mainly funded through Measure S, a $49.75 million bond measure passed by voters in November, 2014. $17.0 million of the money needed to complete the gym will come from Measure S funds while the other $3.0M will come from funds provided by the state.

The old Jay Willard, a 75-year landmark of the school, will remain standing until the new gym is complete and then will be demolished and resurfaced with a parking lot.

Like the old facility, the new complex will have a main gym, an auxiliary gym (for wrestling and other indoor activities) and a weight room, as well as locker rooms and other common amenities found in any gym.

The new gym is being constructed on the parking lot adjacent the District Office. The front entrance of the new facility will face J Street.

Eureka City Schools Board of Trustees members and student representatives break ground on Eureka High’s new gymnasium during a ceremony at the school on Friday. (Andrew Butler — Times-Standard)

The 10-plus foot tall wooden statue of a logger which stands over the foray of the current gym will be housed in the new complex and, according to Eureka High principal Jennifer Johnson, will be a “focal point” in the gym as you walk in.

The new complex will not feature the multi-level seating unique to the old Jay Willard and will instead have collapsible bleacher seating, making for more of a multi-use area.

The $20.0 million price tag includes estimates for the demolition of the current gym, the cost of a new parking lot and all other aspects of the project as a whole.

“For small towns in particular, a gymnasium is a very important part of the community,” former EHS Athletic Director and coach Duane Peterson said during the ceremony. “This gym is well deserved by the students and the community.”

Recreational sports leagues such as Hoopsters, as well as youth wrestling competitions and Humboldt Bay Fire personnel will still be able to use the new complex just as the parties have for years at the original Jay Willard.

Eureka City Schools Superintendent Fred Van Vleck said during the ceremony that the decision to scrap the 75-year old gym and build a new one rather than take on the task of refurbishing the worn down gym was a difficult one, but one that was reached by community stakeholders and his office after a series of public meetings over the months and years following the passage of Measure S.

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