USD 348 board debates location of ballfield storage facility
Location, location, location.
That’s the major factor for the USD 348 Board of Education in deciding whether to move forward with the proposed storage facility near the ball field complex. Location of the building, along with the cost and educational impact, are the major players in this battle.
After approving the plan and voting to move forward with bids three weeks ago, the school board now wants to hear from all parties before making a decision. Nonetheless, no bid proposals were sent out after the Jan. 24 meeting because of concerns about the location of the building.
“Kyle (Trendal), Steve (Friend) and I looked at after we received feedback from staff,” Superintendent Paul Dorathy said. “As we looked at it, yes there are other places it can go, but the problem is there is additional cost with any other site. Unless you go further west up Elm Street, but the further you go up there, the more inconvenient it will be for its intended purpose. Anywhere else we go we will have to move utilities or do more site work.”
The formerly approved plan was to build a 30-feet by 56-feet storage building near the ball field complex on the west edge of town. The facility will primarily be used by the Baldwin City Recreation Commission, which has partnered with USD 348 to maintain the fields.
After a long discussion at the Jan. 13 and Jan. 24 meetings, the school board decided to build the storage facility west of Bullpup Drive near the middle of the complex. That location is near a pond and environmental center used Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center and Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center.
Board Member Scott Lauridsen spoke to the BESPC and BESIC Parents as Teachers Organizations about the proposed facility. He brought their concerns back to the school board Monday night.
“I had to the opportunity to discuss it with that group and I got some pretty good feedback,” Lauridsen said. “I was looking for a workable solution that would minimize the impact of the educational value versus the usability of the facility. There is quite a strong feeling from that group, as you might expect, about the long-term educational value of that space. They convinced me it would have a negative impact on that site.”
Lauridsen said the group had three options that might work better. They suggested constructing a smaller building at the proposed site and a larger one up the hill to the west near the watertower. Their other two suggestions were to construct the entire building near the watertower or pay extra and build it where it should be, which is east of Bullpup Drive in between the two west fields.
“The spot that would be the very idea spot would be in between the two fields on the west,” Dorathy said. “The problem is there are multitudes of utilities underground there. To move those would cost a lot.”
If the school board constructs the building between the two west fields, they will have to pay to move water, gas, electric and sewer lines. All of those run underground in that location just east of Bullpup Drive.
The board also discussed building the facility in the northwest corner of the ball field complex. There is a large sewer line that runs underground in that spot. That sewer line has already been moved twice during the construction of the ball fields.
School Board Member Ande Parks said the concern should be preserving the environmental study area.
“If we had a chance to buy a fantastic, ecological piece of ground located perfectly for our two buildings with our youngest kids, for $20,000 of bond money that we had already encumbered and was available, I don’t think we’d hesitate,” Parks said. “I think we’d think it was a steal. I don’t want to give this piece of ground up because we don’t want to spend that money. I would really encourage us to think about encumbering some extra expense. We can’t get that property back and I think we’re losing something if we put the building in that location.”
The school board asked Dorathy and Kyle Trendal, Baldwin City resident and architect who is working with USD 348 on the project, to look at the cost of moving the utilities. The school board would like to know how much extra it might cost to construct the building in another location. Those figures should be presented at the March 7 meeting.