Archive for Thursday, March 30, 2006

Board delays decision on rec center

March 30, 2006

More than a week after first hearing a presentation by Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty on a $3.7 million pool and recreational complex, members of the Eudora USD 491 Board of Education refrained from taking an official stance on the proposal.

If built, the complex would be on land owned by the district and leased to the city.

The same lot holds the city's current pool and is part of a long-term agreement between the two entities.

The board's deliberate attitude toward the project, which would put before voters in an August referendum, was more subdued than the Eudora City Council's vocal support of the project.

During discussion, which came at a special Saturday meeting, several members said Beatty's synopsis of their reaction to the presentation in a report to the city council on March 13 surprised them.

"We did say we liked the concept. We did say we were fully in favor of doing that and Eudora needed that, but the question I had was, 'have we really fully thought about the piece of ground, and what the value is to us and what is the purpose of Laws Field if it is going to stay where it is,'" board member Mark Chrislip said. "I don't know if it has any relevance or not, but I thought it was worth stopping the process to think about it a little longer."

Although the current plan for the swim and recreational facility would have minimal impact on Laws Field, future expansion might force the issue.

"It would impact it if we decided to bring bleachers around to the north or put in parking, or a fieldhouse to the east," USD 491 Superintendent Marty Kobza said.

The possibility of the recreation complex let board members look at all the possibilities for Laws Field.

"I look at it in a bigger picture ---- do we want to retain the property?" board member Kenny Massey said. "If we're really going to think outside the box, that's really how we have to look at it."

Board member Brenda Clark reminded the board of possible ongoing expenses at Laws Field.

"The money you put in to remodel the thing, and a few years down the road you think, 'Uh that's not working,' and you have to start over,'" Clark said.

Other board members offered possibilities for the land.

"You could possibly sell the building, sell Laws, sell half or whatever, go out here on the east side of town and maybe it would really benefit the people on the east side of town to build a first- through fifth-grade school," board member Greg Neis said.

Should that scenario happen, the district could turn Eudora West Elementary into a building for preschool students through kindergarten students, Neis said.

Nottingham should be considered by the board, Kobza said.

"I think it's definitely worth looking at, plus if you make renovations to it -- particularly to the west side of it -- how long are they going to last you?" Kobza said.

The Nottingham property could have other potential uses for the district.

"I think there's potential for a lot of things," Kobza said.

The possibilities associated with district property eventually brought the discussion back to the matter at hand.

"Does the decision for the pool impact our future options? If it does, how do you write up the contract with the city on that piece of property?" Chrislip said.

Before reaching an official stance on the recreation facility, board members agreed to have their lawyer closely study the current lease contracts involved with the city.

A citizen committee in charge of refining the concept for the recreation center will create a final draft of the center for the city council for a full presentation in June.

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