“We’re currently ahead,” Superintendent Colleen Friend told school board members during a facilities committee meeting.
But her report carried some notes of caution.
“All the invoices are not in,” Friend said. “We do expect some more invoices.”
In December, the board approved a budget not to exceed $3,187,000 for phase one improvements that include the installation of a synthetic turf multipurpose field across Bellaire Drive from the football stadium.
Other phase one improvements include the installation of a scoreboard and lights for the multipurpose field and the removal of utility poles along Bellaire Drive so that crews could bury the electrical, fiber optic and telephone lines carried by those poles.
As of last week, that work is complete and the turf field has been operational since mid-September. The district has a balance of about $956,295 left in the phase one project budget.
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The budget has covered project-related expenses incurred over the past three fiscal years including about $15,948 in 2020-21, $816,593 in 2021-22 and $1,307,135 for far in 2022-23.
In addition, there have been a number of change orders approved since late August:
- $22,600 to change the height of the turf field perimeter fence from four to seven feet.
- $32,000 to remove underlying rock from the work site.
- $35,000 to put asphalt in to accommodate a bleacher pad
- $1,430 to remove more underlying rock from the work site.
Total expenses are about $2,230,705. Aside from the anticipated invoices, the scope of work for phase one has not included one key element.
“The reality is we didn’t do anything to the tennis courts,” Friend said.
The project budget approved in December included an allocation of about $700,000 to put toward a reconfiguration of the campus tennis courts.
During last week’s committee meeting, a PowerPoint slide quoted a December 2021 estimate of $600,000 to add two tennis courts and resurface four tennis courts near Wilson Middle School.
As a next step, Friend recommended the school board obtain a cost analysis of proposed improvements under phases two and three of the multiyear facilities plan.
“We really have to talk about what phase two and phase three looks like,” Friend said last week. “We’re working off of numbers from 2019. We know that times have changed and those are not the same numbers.”
Friend elaborated further during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon.
“The tennis courts and bleachers at the turf field are priorities that the board would have to discuss and plan for first,” she said. “With the economy right now, we have to be careful to time things just right.”
She drew a comparison to the legwork that was done in the lead-up 10 years ago when economic flux led to a pause in planning renovations at Wilson and Lamberton middle schools.
In February 2021, the board reviewed a $9.1 million multiyear plan to improve athletic facilities on the main district campus. That plan came out of a study done by an athletic facilities committee of district administrators and school board members working with ELA Sport, a consulting firm from Lititz, Lancaster County. At that time, phases two and three had no start and completion dates listed.
Back then, phase two was estimated at $3.7 million and included bleachers for the turf field and the construction of a field house within the existing stadium with new restrooms, locker rooms and concession space. There was also a proposal to develop a pedestrian plaza between the stadium and turf field.
This plaza would incorporate a section of Bellaire Drive into the design. A district-owned two-lane road, Bellaire Drive was once used by the public as a short-cut through the main campus. The district closed the road to thru traffic in mid-June. In late August, Friend announced the district may reexamine its closure of Bellaire Drive.
Estimated at $3.7 million, phase three included a proposal to replace the current grass field at the football stadium with a synthetic turf field. The question of whether to keep the field grass or to convert it over to synthetic turf has yet to be decided, Friend said last week.
Phase three also includes a proposal to replace the current six-lane track with an eight-lane track. There was no mention last week on where the tennis courts fit into the overall timing of the different phases nor did Friend give a timeline on when phase two or phase three should be underway.
Joseph Cress is a reporter for The Sentinel covering education and history. You can reach him at email@example.com or by calling 717-218-0022.