Archive for Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bond issue decision is looming

The Baldwin City Council and Baldwin School Board held a joint meeting April 21 to discuss the district's upcoming bond issue and what the city plans to do in regards to shared efforts.

The Baldwin City Council and Baldwin School Board held a joint meeting April 21 to discuss the district's upcoming bond issue and what the city plans to do in regards to shared efforts.

May 15, 2008

The proposed $22.5 million bond issue was the main topic of discussion for the Baldwin School Board at Monday's meeting once again, as members discussed the facilities' committee recommendation for the project.

Overall, the board members appeared pleased with the work the committee had done so far, with several members praising its progress.

"I think they did a very thorough job and gave us a lot of input," said Board Member Bill Busby.

Other board members echoed Busby's sentiments.

"They put in a lot of good work and gave good information," said Board Member Blaine Cone.

The main topics of discussion revolved around infrastructural concerns for the proposed facilities and how they would affect the price of the bond issue.

The architectural firm the board hired, DLR Group, had estimated that the bond issue would cost around that $22.5 million figure.

The $22.5 million facilities' committee recommendation includes a new 480-student Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center and early childhood center. That building would include the BESPC students, the 4-year-old program students, Parents as Teachers organization and possibly Rainbow Experience Preschool.

Also included on the committee's recommendation was a new performing arts center. It would be around 10,000 square feet and would hold around 650 people.

Other items were baseball and softball fields, practice track facility and technology and security needs. The last items were renovations to Baldwin Junior High School. Those renovations include a new roof and updated heating and cooling systems.

However, the city said that the school board would need to do some work on the roads surrounding the facilities, which would increase the cost of the bond issue. The proposed street work consists of extending Elm Street to connect with Bullpup Drive and Lawrence Street. Connecting the two streets would require more than 1,200 feet of road, which would cost around $500,000 to complete.

In addition to extending the street, the city council also discussed the costs of adding extra parking to the facilities. The city council and school board met in April at a joint meeting to discuss the facilities' committee recommendation.

The cost estimates done so far on the possible bond issue had not included the cost of a new street and parking lot construction. The board recently contracted with Manning Construction Company to construct the facilities, if the bond issue passes. By Friday, the company hopes to have numbers for how expensive the construction will be, including construction costs for the street and parking lot. Those numbers should be presented at Monday's upcoming meeting.

If the company's estimates roughly match the $22.5 million estimate, the board will not have to alter its plans. However, if the company's estimates are much different from the earlier estimate, the board may have to reconsider the scope of a bond issue.

John Fuller, an architect for DLR, estimated the proposed additions could bring the price of a bond issue up to $24 million.

Despite the added cost, several board members appeared convinced of the need for more parking.

"You can have nice facilities, but if people can't access them that's a problem," said Board Member Scott Lauridsen.

The board discussed the possibility of passing the bond issue in two phases to make the costs more affordable for taxpayers. The first phase would cost the original estimate of $22.5 million, which is the amount of money the board and facilities' committee thought Baldwin residents would be most likely to endorse. Getting funding approval for the rest of the bond issue could come during a second phase.

Board members also discussed the possibility of making construction of the parking lot more affordable, with Lauridsen proposing the use of gravel in constructing the parking lot, at least for a time. However, Supt. Paul Dorathy said the city would not allow the parking lot to consist of gravel.

The board hopes to pass a resolution on the bond issue at next week's meeting, which begins a 6 p.m. Monday at the district office.

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