Archive for Thursday, September 22, 2005

Board ok’s $2.5 million spending package

New district stadium on improvement list

September 22, 2005

The Eudora USD 491 Board of Education voted Tuesday to spend up to $2.5 million for the lease/purchase of major capital improvements to the district.

The decision came after a representative from an architectural firm presented plans for a proposed stadium at the district campus south of Kansas Highway 10.

With the resolution, the district has gained the ability to make progress on the stadium after years of discussion. One small hurdle remains. The resolution is subject to a protest petition.

Nonetheless, Superintendent Marty Kobza looks to the future.

"One of the advantages of the lease is if you wanted to accelerate this and get started on the project, if you pass a resolution tonight, that allows you to do some things," he told the board.

The board focused on the stadium during Tuesday's special meeting but the decision would have other implications besides a new home for district track and football teams.

It could speed up a solution to overcrowding at the elementary schools by paving the way for classroom trailers.

The proposed stadium will hold 3,000 people and run north to south, with the home grandstands on the west.

The plans called for concessions and locker rooms to be housed under the grandstand.

Projected cost for the stadium, depending on the composition of the field, could run the district anywhere between $2 million to $3 million.

With the lease purchase option, depending on the interest rate, the district could pay around $150,000 to $300,000 per year. Depending on finances, the district could choose to accelerate the pay scale.

Talk of building a new stadium returned to the forefront of board discussion in recent months in light of issues with Laws Field.

"We've looked at Laws field as having many needs," Kobza said.

The current field poses a safety issue for middle and high school students.

To use it, students need to cross K-10, a risk board members would rather they didn't take.

The current field lacks modern changing facilities for teams and forces them to use space in Nottingham Elementary.

"Obviously, that creates some issues with cleanliness, and the building has overall concerns," Kobza said. "But the biggest issue we've looked at is safety, currently we transfer all of our middle school kids down from the middle school to the track every day."

When the district considered a new stadium, it looked at building a new track then constructing a stadium around it.

After cost analysis, the board deemed the two-phase option inefficient.

As part of its consideration, the district looked at a full-scale renovation of Laws Field. The option was rejected because of the $1.5 million price tag required to bring it up to date.

Even with the improvements, a renovated Laws Field would still lack adequate parking, Kobza said.

The district will look into using Laws Field as a supplementary athletic field.

Although the district has the authority to make the money available for a project, they won't necessarily use it, Kobza said.

"If it's not an option, it's not an option. You've got to go somewhere else," Kobza said. "But this gives you that option,"

In order for the resolution to be made official, it needs to be published for two weeks, starting Sept. 29, in The Eudora News, and then be subject to public petition for 30 days.

If the public raises no opposition, the district can go forward. A valid protest petition would force a referendum on the issue if the board decided to press on with the spending package.

If all goes well, the district could start taking bids for a lease purchase for the stadium as early as January, then start building as soon as weather breaks in the spring, Kobza said.

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