Archive for Thursday, July 13, 2006

Still no finish line for district track decision

July 13, 2006

Now that the bids are in on the proposed track and soccer facility north of Baldwin High School, the Baldwin Board of Education must decide if it has the finances to move forward.

On June 30, two bids for the facility came into the district and both with options and alternatives. All of that information was released at Monday's board meeting.

"We were provided excellent information," Board President Alison Bauer said. "What we need to do now is figure out what we can afford. That's my main concern."

Vance Rzepka, architect with VSR Design came to the meeting to discuss the bidding information with the board. He explained what the base bid entailed and what each alternate bid included.

"We looked at this track and soccer field facility and we got two bids," Rzepka said. "The majority of it is to grade the whole area. We have to flatten the top part (east side of complex) and lower the bottom end (west side). It includes the asphalt track around the perimeter with a basic striped track. We would also irrigate the soccer field with full irrigation."

All of that would cost the district $359,955 with McConnell and Associates and it would cost $500,266.85 with Mid-America Golf and Landscape, Inc.

Board Member Scott Lauridsen asked Rzepka what it would cost the district for the bare minimum.

"We started with putting a practice track in there," Lauridsen said. "I am trying to understand if its even feasible to put a track out there with minimal damage to the soccer field. We are trying to solve our track problem with what we can minimally do."

Rzepka then told the board that the construction could be done without full irrigation on the soccer field, but the rest would have to be done for draining purposes. He said he would estimate that would drop the price down about $100,000, but he wasn't sure.

"You're still looking at $250,000 just to get that track in there," Rzepka said. "You would have the perimeter drained, but not the middle. So that is an option and it is feasible."

The next question the board had for Rzepka was whether or not it would be able to upgrade the field once the track was in place, in case it wanted to in a few years.

"It's a fairly easy task to come in and trench those lines through the field," Rzepka said.

Then Lauridsen got to one of the central issues regarding the facility.

"The other thing of this is the timing of when you can put a track down," Lauridsen said.

Rzepka responded by saying the timeline for asphalt work runs from about March to Thanksgiving, but it depends a lot on how dry the weather is.

"The track surface is more temperature sensitive than the asphalt," Rzepka said. "You would have to lay it in April or May, but you also have to worry about whether it will rain or not."

Both bids for the rubberized track surface were near $120,000. One bid was $119,475 and the either was $121,360.

After all of that was explained, the discussion moved to the alternate bids and the possibility of placing artificial turf on the soccer field.

The two prices for used artificial turf were $295,870 and $347,741.85. The new artificial turf would cost either $347,741.85 or $352,985. Rzepka said the major cost of artificial turf is the curb and the six-inch drainage base.

He also explained the cost differences between new and used turf.

"The labor cost of the used turf is at least double of the new turf," Rzepka said. "The new turf just rolls out across the field and the used turf has to be cut into 50-foot sections.

"If you do the artificial turf, you're talking about $700,000 for the project," Rzepka said. "But then that will warrant making it into a stadium."

That opened the discussion that has been going on for months, and that is what the long-range plan for the facility is.

"I am concerned about how this has evolved from a practice track to a stadium now," Bauer said. "We don't know if the high school will be moved or not, and if it is, then we will be bussing kids over there. I think the bare bones of this project make sense now."

Lauridsen said that he would like to be able to one day make the facility into a stadium, if the district wishes to.

"Long range, I think we want to keep that as an option as we move forward," Lauridsen said. "I don't think we want to go put a district-wide facility out there right now."

Supt. Paul Dorathy then said the school board doesn't have the money to invest in the project now.

"You don't have the money in capital outlay to pay for that track right now," Dorathy said. "The next time you will receive a large amount of money for capital outlay is in January."

That's when Dorathy described the two ways to pay for this proposed facility.

"There are two ways it can be paid for," Dorathy said. "You can do a lease purchase, which means you basically go out to a bank and you set up a loan system. Then the bank owns it and you are leasing it from them. That is the part of it that is not attractive, since the local bank owns your track.

"The other way to do it is to bond against your capital outlay," Dorathy said. "You make a commitment for the next four or five years to pay for that out of capital outlay. Those can be paid off early. That's just two ways of doing it and the district has to look at what is best percentage wise for the district."

After the meeting Bauer said the board must decide what it can afford for this facility, if it wishes to move forward.

"Athletics and safety are very important, and that's why we brought up these issues in the first place," Bauer said. "But we need to continue to have discussion around what we can afford in our budget."

At the next meeting on July 24, the board will continue discussing the proposed facility.

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