Gasconade County R-2 School District’s Board of Education on Monday approved building a new $479,000 softball and baseball complex at the high school using proceeds of recent surplus land …
Gasconade County R-2 School District’s Board of Education on Monday approved building a new $479,000 softball and baseball complex at the high school using proceeds of recent surplus land sales.
Along with the closing of the Administration Field property sale on Thursday to Casey’s General Store for $404,719, the R-2 School District also has another $84,785 available from the sale of the old K-2 building and adjoining land.
These funds from surplus land sales, a total of $489,504, may only be used for capital projects, Superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner has said previously.
Following discussion about future plans for the school campus north of Owensville, R-2 directors voted 7-0 to proceed with plans for building a mixed-use ballfield adjacent to Dutchmen Drive near the Dutchmen Field football and soccer stadium.
Director Nona Miller started the conversation, asking board members if the proposed location for the complex, centrally located between the middle and high schools, was the only option.
“We have no other option on the land that we have out there, other than the land on that corner, that already has so much going on?” Miller asked.
Board President Glenn Ely said the short answer is no.
“There is more land, but the project needs to have infrastructure, parking, bathrooms,” Ely said. “From a practical standpoint, there is only one way that makes sense.”
Ely said the district doesn’t want to spend a ton on money when they know they can improve the campus with less.
“Based on the needs of the district moving forward, are there any other structures or buildings on the future plan that have not been discussed?” Miller asked. “If we have three more things we are wanting to do on that property, are we considering all of those in addition to this?”
Ely said yes, things have been considered. He added that any of those things the district would talk about would involve a bond issue and would have to be taken to the public. Miller said when she looked over the long range planning committee list, she did not see any buildings in the future.
“Things you might be thinking of may only happen with bond issues,” Ely said.
Miller said she understood building the new fields would take money, and that they would only be used for softball and baseball.
“Or would there be another sport on that field,” she asked.
Ely said the field could be used for more. Any sport that requires a field could use the new complex.
The new field would have a turf infield surface, just like the football field.
“What’s nice is the location makes it accessible to the middle school and the high school,” Owensville High School Principal Cindy Hawkins said.
Miller said she keeps hearing the bathrooms are the reason why they chose the location they did, and that they would need nets to prevent balls from hitting cars.
“I just keep thinking, would it be better suited behind the middle school building,” Miller said.
“There is a reason why they wanted it close to an existing building,” Ely said. “If you set it out there, you deny the possibility of looking at it as anything other than a building. If you are going to use it for anything other than a building, there is a practicality to not doing anything yet.”
Miller asked where a severe-weather building would go, if one were to go in; but Ely said that hasn’t been discussed.
Director Molly Steinbeck asked Athletic Director Dale Long how traffic would be handled if an event was being held at both Dutchmen Field and by the elementary school.
Long said he would make sure there was supervision for the younger ones running back and forth to the bathrooms near the concession stands.
“They are going to be back and forth,” Steinbeck said.
Long said kids are very diligent about keeping an eye out. He is not worried about the traffic or safety concerns.
“I just keep hearing that the dollar amount is right for this project,” Miller said.
Ely said 30 years ago, the idea was there. “It would not require a great deal of moving dirt,” Ely said. “You could multiply the cost of a project because of that.”
Miller said there was a conversation about where to put home plate because of the location of the sun versus safety issue. She asked about the final decision.
Board member Bill Seamon, the high school’s former head baseball coach, said the sun issue is the least amount of worries. Home plate would be by the corner of the intersection and not by the creek.
“Does that make the nets not necessary to catch the balls,” Miller asked.
Seamon said he would still have the nets to protect the cars and traffic driving from the highways. “Nets aren’t that expensive,” Seamon said.
Steinbeck added that she would like to see stop signs added on the corner intersection coming back to the high school from the elementary school.
“Are we looking at the expense of it?” Miller asked.
“There is an amount on the cost and an amount we made on the property,” Miller said about the price of the new complex. “Where is the difference?”
Ely said the list they accumulated is the closest thing to break even that they could get to.
“This is the amount we have acquired through the sale of excess property,” Ely explained. “Is this a great move for us?”
Garner said they left the bid amount negotiable in case other entities wanted to donate items for the field, such as score boards. As of the Dec. 17 decision, the school was committing to the turf, outfield, fences and dugouts — all things needed to be able to play ball on the field in August.
“You can do that without committing to things other organizations may want to step up and do,” Garner said.
A motion was made by Bill Seamon and seconded by Steinbeck that the board enter into a TIPS agreement with Byrnes and Jones to construct a high school softball/baseball field with the base price of $479,000. It was approved with a 7-0 vote.
Byrnes and Jones installed the base, drainage system, turf surface and new track for Dutchmen Field and also completed an extensive parking lot base renovation and asphalt resurfacing project for the district.
Tyler Ahring, while taking no credit for the project’s development, shared his thoughts on Facebook.
“It’s been a long time coming but WE ARE GETTING AN ON CAMPUS BASEBALL/SOFTBALL FIELD! Turf infield! I am SO excited! I’m so thankful for our school district for making a move on this, and I’m so excited to be the Head Coach of the Dutchmen Baseball program!”