Crestwood Approves Field House Contracts
A new field house in Crestwood School District will include locker rooms for home and visiting teams, bathrooms for spectators, concession stands, plus rooms for coaches, officials, weightlifting, cardiovascular training and physical therapy.
Contracts that the school board approved April 30 for building the field house total $3.4 million, excluding previous costs for preparing the site. A $4.5 million bond floated in 2017 will pay for the construction. Before the board approved contracts, two spectators asked the board to delay construction and hold a referendum to learn whether residents support a field house.
“Not one more child is going to play a sport because you have a pretty bathroom,” Kelly Ross van den Berg said.
She asked the board to consider putting funds into academic programs rather than a field house, which she said perhaps 10% of students would use.
Board members said the idea for the field house dates to a community council recommendation in 2003.
Barry Boone, a board member and former teacher and coach, campaigned in favor of building a field house, but not the larger, two-story structure originally proposed for which bids topped $6 million. Since then, the board scaled back and now plans a one-story field house of 8,600 square feet.
Board President Bill Jones said storage inside the field house will protect athletic equipment from the weather, and the rest rooms will save $20,000 that the district spends annually to rent portable toilets. Moving the weight room to the field house will open space in the high school.
To prepare ground near the football field for the field house, Jones said $233,000 was allocated, of which $150,000 has been spent so far. The board will have options to reduce construction by $100,000 to $200,000.
Van den Berg, who computed higher site costs before the meeting based on district records, said the board didn’t state site costs clearly earlier.
Jones said the board members are close to balancing next year’s budget, which they will introduce later this month.
Because of future costs for repairing Rice and Fairview elementary schools, Jones said the board is considering building a new school to hold all elementary students.
“What we’re looking at is an option,” Jones said Friday. “Is it better for us to build a brand new school, (in) one central location, instead of putting millions of dollars” into the Rice and Fairview schools? A central elementary school might fit south of the baseball field at what is now the secondary campus, he said.
A study two years ago by HUNT Engineers, Architects & Surveyors of Towanda, Bradford County, estimated the costs of top-priority upgrades at $7.9 million for Rice and $7.5 million for Fairview. At both schools, converting pods to regular classrooms would cost $3 million.
Board member James Costello called pods a 1960s design that isn’t functional now. For example, some walls don’t reach ceilings, which lets sounds travel between classes.
Siemens, a corporation doing a guaranteed energy savings plan for Crestwood, will provide an energy-saving audit that will help the board evaluate options for the elementary schools.
PNC Bank is reviewing financing.
“It all depends on different ways we finance the bond,” said Jones, adding there are “a lot of options for us to minimize the impact on the taxpayers.”
Board member Randy Swank said by email, “If we can make it work on the finance side I would be in favor of building new rather than repairing the old buildings.”
Boone and Costello said they and other board members will be better able to decide whether to build a new elementary school or repair the Rice and Fairview schools after Siemens presents its findings to the public in August.
“Once we get that report, we can give a better answer,” said Costello, adding, “I definitely think we can do better with a new school academically.”
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