2013-04-13 / News

Board faces tough decisions on athletic facilities

By Charles Prince

BALTIMORE – Liberty Union - Thurston School Board members got some price tags put on some long discussed outdoor athletic facilities Monday night.

Athletic Director George Shreyer presented specific quotes for some projects and ballpark estimates for others. He started his presentation by passing out color photos of Sheridan’s new football stadium with artificial turf. It cost $1.9 million with a lot of local in-kind labor donations and didn’t include a concession stand nor locker facilities.

Shreyer said Liberty Union’s football stadium still needs a fieldhouse – a concession stand and dressing rooms. A key question is where to build it. The current stadium is in a flood plain, but moving outdoor athletic facilities to the elementary/middle school complex means starting from scratch.

Shreyer estimates a Phase III expansion at the current stadium – adding the needed concession stand and dressing rooms – would cost about $275,000. Moving the baseball and softball diamonds to the FFA corn field east of the middle school could cost $2.4 million. “I’m sure we can do it for hundreds of thousands cheaper,” he told board members.

The football stadium needs new lights which would cost $125,000. Probably the most pressing need, Shreyer said, is to redo the six-lane track. “The track needs to be done before we lose it,” he said. He had a $38,379 cost estimate for the job.

Other estimates were $555,000 for artificial turf with $90,000 being done locally with in-kind labor donations. A turf field would resolve concerns about overuse of the grass field from football and soccer games and practices plus band practice.

Additional stadium seating, with the current visitor bleachers moved to the baseball and softball fields, would cost $650-700,000. A barely middle of the road scoreboard would be $62,000,

“It’s like options on a car,” Superintendent Paul Mathews commented. He said some bond money will be left over from the building projects but the key questions are how much would be available to spend on athletic facilities and how should it be spent. Moving the fields to the elementary/middle school complex would require nearly $125,000 in basic infrastructure expenses before any specific facilities could be started.

In other business Monday night, board members unanimously agreed to increase the pay-to-participate fee per student, per sport from $80 to $95 effective next school year. The other pay-to-participate fees are unchanged. Mathews said the increase reflects higher transportation expenses and the cost to hire a police officer for boys and girls basketball games.

The fee started out at $95, moved up to $100, then back down to the current $80. “It has been higher,” Mathews said.

Members also agreed unanimously to seek bids for exterior improvements at the elementary school. The estimated cost is $147,000 with another $25,000 for contingencies. The project includes adding a lot of concrete both for hard surface play areas and to better orient sidewalks to traffic patterns. The grassy knoll outside the front doors will be removed and replaced with retaining walls. Some wire guardrails will be added to keep vehicles from parking on grassy areas. The work will be done this summer. “We’ve talked about this for about a year,” Mathews said.

The March co-students-of-themonth were honored by the board. Sophomore Kelly Mix, daughter of Doug and Kathy Mix, is a two year member of the color guard and varsity softball team. She is a band and FFA member and is on the yearbook staff.

Freshman Logan Moore, is the son of Adam and Melody Reef and lives with his grandmother, Judy Reef. He specializes in the 110 meter hurdles on the varsity track team and plays basketball.

The board’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, May 13, at district office.

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