New track, turf also topic for school board
After Monday's Baldwin Board of Education meeting, the Baldwin School District is one step closer to having its own track and artificial surface playing field.
The school board voted 7-0 to begin the documentation by architects for the proposed improved facility north of Baldwin High School.
"The architect will need to draft documents to put out for vendors to bid on the track work that we want to have done," Supt. James White said. "We'll get those bids back and decide if they fall within the budget we are looking at."
The discussion about the track and recreational field, now the current BHS soccer field, was very long, with input from many people.
Jim Drew, Precision Sports Fields, which is currently renovating Liston Stadium, returned to the meet with the school board. He had spoken to the board at the April 10 meeting.
"I was asked by Ruth (Barkley, school board member) to return and speak concerning the addition of the track and artificial versus natural turf on the recreational field," Drew said.
Drew told the board that the time to act on the track and field is now.
"Part of the deal here is mobilization," Drew said. "We are here in town now. You would have to act pretty fast to have anything done by the start of school. The window is quickly closing to have anything finished by August."
He then proceeded to give the costs of the track and the field, with natural and artificial turf. The price of everything with natural turf would be $372,000, but with artificial turf, it would be $541,000.
The natural turf would require much more time and effort to up keep. Drew said that it might cost nearly $35,000 a year to maintain the turf, when everything was added together.
"The cost difference is basically the cost for the turf," Drew said. "After four or five years, the cost of the maintenance will equal the cost of the turf."
Drew also said the turf has a guaranteed life of eight years, but he has seen some last 12 to 15 years.
White said the board had two ways of paying for the facility. It could either pay it through capital outlay money through a lease or make it part of a possible bond issue.
The school board began its discussion on the track proposal which came before a later presentation on the district's long-range plan.
"The first decision that has to be done is the long-range facility plan," Board Member Scott Lauridsen said. "We need to figure out if we want to build a new high school or junior high, then figure out where we want this track."
Board Member Ruth Barkley responded, saying it wouldn't matter if the area was for either school.
"I can't picture that being anything other than a high school or junior high facility," Barkley said. "But maybe I am not looking far enough outside the box."
White came back to say that a track has been a need of the district's too long.
"We have had the need for a track out there for awhile," White said. "We are busing kids over to Baker to a very crowded situation."
Lauridsen replied about how it's tough to make a decision without a set long-range plan.
"I might be the only one who is not ready to make a decision," Lauridsen said. "But I do think there we are in consensus that there is a need for a track out there. But this is becoming much more than a track."
He went on to say that the plan started out as a track and has become a new recreational field with turf now, instead of just a practice track.
Then the board decided to table the discussion until later in the meeting.
When the track plans came back up at the meeting, after the board had heard White's report from the facilities committee regarding long-range district plans, the board began to talk about the time issue involved.
White said the board will have to take bids on the work, which could take up to four weeks.
On Tuesday, White said it might be possible to finish the project before school starts, if it is started immediately.
"It's getting so late, it's going to be very difficult," White said. "We still have hope, I think, to be able to start the project this summer and complete it before the soccer season starts in the middle of August."
The next topic on the facility was whether or not it could be used by the BHS soccer, junior varsity football and freshman football teams. Lauridsen was concerned about the scheduling of events on the field and whether all of the games could be played on the possible new field.
BHS athletic director Gary Stevanus said the schedule for next year is completed, so there might be a few conflicts. But, Stevanus said the schedule could be changed in future years, especially since the Frontier League wants to play JV and freshman football games on the same day.
That discussion led into the possible need for lights at the complex. The board figured out that lights would be needed if several games were to be played on the same day.
Before getting too involved with that topic, Lauridsen wondered about the future of using Baker University's Liston Stadium.
White responded, saying he talked with Baker Athletic Director Dan Harris.
"I talked to Mr. Harris last week and he said their future plans include us using their facilities," White said.
Then Board Member Ande Parks chimed in to say that maybe they should ask for input from the new superintendent, Paul Dorathy, who will take over July 1.
Before the board voted to start the documents for the architects, Board Member Allison Bauer expressed her opinion.
"I am all for the track and the recreational field for soccer, football, gym classes or whatever," Bauer said. "I think it will get enough use over time. If we have the money and it looks like there are some cost savings now, I am all for this plan."
The school board will continue discussing the track and soccer field at its May 22 meeting at 8 p.m. at the District Office.