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Upgrades To WPHS Athletic Fields Subject To Cost Concerns

WHEELING — Plans to revitalize the athletic fields at Wheeling Park as a bond construction project are over budget, Ohio County Board of Education members learned Monday night.

Sean Doyle, field representative for McKinley and Associates, said the amount for improvements to the athletic fields have been set at $1.7 million, and includes the construction of a turf facility to accommodate softball play. Some of the amenities, however, may have to be scaled back, he said.

There now is an increased focus on including things specifically called for in the $42.2 million bond issue approved by voters in 2018, Doyle said.

“We really started to peel back and focus on what was in the bond call,” he told board members.

“That includes a turf facility that was included in the bond. That includes renovations and leveling of the field to do softball so the softball team could play on Wheeling Park’s campus. And there will be renovations to the locker room.”

Other projects, such as a press box and dugouts, could be considered later based on their financial impact, according to Doyle.

A location change has increased the costs for the building of the turf facility, which initially was planned to go inside the track area that is located down a hillside from the school.

The proposed location now will be above and closer to the high school building, and it will require an expensive water line location, according to Doyle.

He said while it would be more costly to build the turf facility at the new location, the benefits do make it a better investment.

“When the bond issue was drafted the turf facility was to be over the hill at the back of the school in (an area) that was much more prepared,” Doyle said. “It obviously would have been much of a lesser financial impact to go below and put the turf there.”

But school officials, parents and students “overwhelmingly expressed” they wanted the turf area closer to the school building, and not where people would have to walk down the hill to get to it, he said.

Doyle said the work at the athletic fields has been narrowed down to building a turf facility near the school, and establishing a place where softball can be played with dugouts and a press box.

“We will be able to relocate the water line,” he said. “We would be able to do the work over the hill that is necessary, but we are over the amount of budget for athletic fields.”

Current estimates set the cost of all work that has been proposed for the athletic fields at $3.2 million, according to Doyle.

“There are certainly more opportunities for discussion,” Doyle said. “There is a nice press box included in that, and nice dugouts, and a portable fence to bring out when there is softball play.

“We do have an aggregate parking area planned. It’s a priority, but it is a high cost item.”

He said McKinley and Associates was waiting for the go ahead from the board to proceed with design plans for the project, which would not represent a financial commitment to doing the construction.

“Are we going to make the commitment and do what is necessary to put that facility where we intend to now, or is there consideration to change that plan due to financial implications?” Doyle asked the board.

Board President David Croft asked Doyle whether it was possible to do the work on an a la carte basis over time.

“There is no doubt we could choose to do the press box later,” Doyle said. “As long as we had a turf facility for softball where everybody was excited to play, we can do that”

Doyle suggested the press box maybe could be constructed later following a fundraising effort, or if more money becomes available in the construction budget.

“My concern is if we need to run an electric line for a press box, that we do it now so we are not having to tear up concrete later,” Croft said.

Neither Superintendent Kim Miller nor business manager Steven Bieniek were present for Monday’s meeting.

The board is next scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. on Aug. 24 at the board office, 2203 National Road, Elm Grove.

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