A look at bond proposal: athletics and transportation
A portion of the bond proposal Ludington Area Schools is asking the public to approve at the polls May 7 will go toward the athletics facilities and transportation.
If approved, 3 percent of the more than $100 million district-wide project would go toward athletics, according to superintendent Jason Kennedy.
Kennedy said the board of education intentionally focused on teaching and learning when creating the design proposal, however there are some needs that extracurricular activities have within the district.
“We wanted to allocate a small amount of money to ensure that we are updating all facilities,” Kennedy said. “Part of the bond project is the impact on all kids and activities they participate in. Finding ways to ensure that we are touching all venues — the arts, both performing and visual — as well as athletics; all of the extracurricular activities. Those are all important in the scope of a child’s education.”
The athletic improvements range from a new team room and concession building to improvements to the softball diamonds and artificial turf for the football/soccer field.
The remaining 97 percent will be for new construction of a pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade elementary school on the Outcalt Property bordered by Bryant Road and Jebavy Drive.
The proposal also calls for extensive renovations and expansions at the secondary school complex and work at the Oriole Field athletic complex.
Kennedy said the board felt that the 3 percent was adequate to bring the athletic facilities up to date, ensure that they meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and are Title IX-compliant.
Improvements would also be made to Donald C. Baldwin Community Pool, but those costs would be part of the budget for upgrading the secondary complex because the pool is located in O.J. DeJonge Middle School, Kennedy said.
“Not included in that 3 percent is a small amount of money that is allocated to some of the infrastructure of the Donald C. Baldwin Community Pool system,” Kennedy said. “When you look at how the money is allocated in the application, there is money for infrastructure for the pool but that falls within the secondary complex. That is why you do not see it in the actual athletic numbers.”
Improving the existing athletics facilities
The estimated price tag for improving the athletics facilities is $3,069,394, and those costs will include some new construction and renovations. The new construction will consist of a new 1,500-square-foot team room (locker room) and concession building for baseball and softball.
Site work at Oriole Field will also include:
• Upgrade football and soccer field to artificial turf;
• Replace pole vault asphalt;
• Re-coat track surface;
• Improvements to baseball infield and outfield;
• Improvements to softball infield and outfield, new scoreboard;
• Replace gravel parking with asphalt;
• Update bleachers to include ADA;
• New team rooms and toilets and concessions for baseball and softball.
Kennedy said the cost for field turf is $900,000. If voters approve the bond, the district can use the design phase to take a closer look at installing artificial turf, Kennedy said, noting that the current grass field is expensive to maintain and artificial turf can last for several years.
“We are looking at the cost effectiveness of having field turf put in versus the cost of maintaining it on an annual basis,’ Kennedy said. “You generally find that within an 8-to-10-year window the district has come out ahead. With all of the advancements, those (artificial turf) fields are lasting 12 to 15 and up to 20-plus years.”
Kennedy said teams like football and soccer are making longer runs into the playoffs, which puts more pressure and use on the field.
“It is a very expensive field to maintain,” he said. “Something like (field turf) would more than likely allow us to host MHSAA tournament games.”
The district would also look to improve the current softball diamond at Oriole Field, specifically Diamond One located near the pickleball courts.
“We are looking at improving everything from scoreboards, field material, fencing the dugouts to ensure the softball field and baseball fields are equal,” Kennedy said.
The City of Ludington currently uses the softball diamonds to run its recreation programs and has a lease agreement with the Ludington Area School District. The school district owns all of Oriole Field, according to platbooks and the city’s recreational plan that was approved in 2011.
Kennedy said the city and the school have a long history of cooperation when it comes to Oriole Field. Through that agreement, the city maintains the west half of Oriole Field with some monetary support from the school district.
If the bond passes, there will be upgrades to the district’s transportation facilities, including replacing the air conditioning unit at the bus garage on Tinkham Avenue. There would also be updates to the garage’s HVAC/electrical and architectural finishes.
New buses would also be purchased with money from the bond.