After a hiatus due to record construction costs, construction of athletic facilities at Jefferson City High School is scheduled to begin later this fall.
The Jefferson City School District has planned athletic facilities at JCHS and Capital City High School since 2017, but the plan has changed several times since then.
When the bond issue to build Capital City High School and renovate and expand Jefferson City High School was passed in 2017, the district did not have enough money to build competitive fields at CCHS, so it built practice facilities with the plan to eventually build equal competition areas at both high schools.
Originally, Adkins Stadium at JCHS was to be shared between the two high schools’ football teams, and CCHS would initially only have practice grounds. For other sports, athletes from both schools competed and practiced off campus.
For example, the two high schools’ softball teams competed at Riverside Park, but JCHS athletes would have to practice at CCHS if CCHS had a game there. However, that plan changed because sharing the fields “proved to be very taxing,” Jason Hoffman, who was chief financial officer and chief operating officer at the time, said at the December school board meeting.
“It just doesn’t work,” he told the meeting. “I think they even had games in Capital City even though they don’t have the amenities. We moved to portable bleachers to have football. So sharing the facilities, we learned that very quickly, doesn’t work very well.”
In 2017, the district saw the first drawing of the CCHS sports facility, by Schematic Design, which included only one multi-purpose training ground. In May 2018, after the district had already sent out tenders for the excavation with only one practice area, district leaders decided that one area was not ideal and worked with the director of the construction at risk and the architects to develop a new design. They then submitted a second excavation offer.
The new design included a soccer field right next to the soccer field to allow the district to put a shared grandstand between the tennis, soccer, and baseball fields. It included only four tennis courts and no observation tower. At this stage, these were rudimentary training grounds.
However, when the project was put out to tender, the district found it was saving money. At-risk builder Nabholz has set up allowances in some areas to secure a maximum price. Since he didn’t use all of those allowances, that money went back to the district, allowing the district to add lights to the baseball and softball fields and four additional tennis courts with lights, an observation tower, and a tennis hitting wall.
He also completed the baseball/softball field additions needed to use it as a practice field, such as bullpens, and added turf to Adkins Stadium and the football, soccer, and baseball fields in the area. CCHS. The district was able to realize just over $9 million in additions outside of the construction contract, within the project’s guaranteed maximum price.
“We didn’t have to raise (the price) as a change order,” Hoffman said in December. “We were just able to complete them because of the way the process worked.”
The district always knew that the CCHS training grounds were meant to be ready for competition eventually. During the J+C Bond campaign to build CCHS and renovate JCHS, Superintendent Larry Linthacum said in all of his presentations that he wanted to have the same opportunities at both high schools, so the district had to try to find a place where they could put baseball/softball, tennis and soccer fields on the JCHS campus.
In 2018, the district planned to cut the rock face between the YMCA and Adkins Stadium to make room for the pitches on the JCHS campus. There is a creek running through this site around the driving range, so the district should have removed the driving range. It would have cost about $6 million and left no room for parking or locker rooms, Hoffman said.
But then the May 2019 tornado damaged homes in the Jefferson City High School neighborhood, and some neighborhood residents contacted the district to purchase their property. The district then sent a letter to all property owners in the area asking them to contact the district if they wanted to sell their property.
The district purchased and recently completed the demolition of approximately 50 properties in an area bounded by Stadium Boulevard, Jackson Street, Oberman Place and Adams Street, where it now plans to put the fields.
The district had planned to borrow money for sports facilities and buildings to address overcrowding in kindergarten through eighth grade at the same time, but the overcrowding plan was put on hold. The original plan was to bring a voter bond issue for buildings to address overcrowding in K-8 classrooms in April 2020, but district leaders put the plan on hold to give them more time to evaluate the solutions.
JC Schools now plans to offer a bond offering to the board and voters in April 2022. The district can borrow $80 million without raising the tax rate, and it will likely have to borrow that full amount.
The district had planned to borrow $100 million at the same time – $80 million for school buildings through a general obligation surety and $20 million for sports facilities through a lease. -purchase or certificate of participation, a type of financing where an investor buys a share of the rental income of a program rather than the surety bond secured by that income. Participation certificates are secured by rental income and commonly used by public municipalities. Sports facilities will still be funded by a COP of $20 million.
The district will budget $1.5 million per year from the capital projects fund for the next 20 years.
While the district was still not ready to move forward with the crowded K-8 bond issuance last year, it announced in December that it was ready to move forward with the sports facilities as this would allow the district to take advantage of historically low interest rates. and it would allow the sports facilities to be completed more quickly instead of waiting for the other project to be completed.
In December, the school board approved the district’s proposal to move forward with the addition and completion of competitive athletic facilities at both high schools with the goal of starting construction in May and having them ready. to be used in time for the 2021-22 school year. .
“It was a very aggressive schedule,” facilities manager Frank Underwood said in June. “Over time, seeing where we were and what it was going to take is quite an undertaking. It finally became a reality that it wasn’t going to happen.”
The district then expected excavation work to begin in late June and most of the construction to be completed by January – but construction costs have caused setbacks.
The initial estimated cost of the projects was $21.4 million. This cost includes facilities for both schools and the addition of a road behind Thomas Jefferson Middle School, as this project was included in the same contract.
However, the cost has become higher than expected.
“Over the past few months, it’s become clear that construction and material costs are at an all-time high, which is showing across the country,” interim chief operating officer Dawn Berhorst said earlier this week. this month. “It forced us to look for ways to reduce costs without compromising the quality and functionality of the finished project.”
By delaying construction, the district still hopes to stay within the $21.4 million budget.
Excavation of the JCHS sports facilities is expected to begin shortly with the majority of construction expected to be completed by mid-2022.
Jeff Schnieders Construction installed erosion control, stripped the southwest corner of the site between Case Avenue and Stadium Boulevard, and hauled over 100 loads of fill from another site.
The district’s grading permit allows him to haul additional loads if needed until September 6, but no further work can take place until then until the permit is issued.
The site plan is being finalized and the district is waiting for the city council to approve the release of the rights of way on the streets.
“The city told me they would like two weeks to review before issuing the grading permit,” Underwood said. “The earthwork permit can be issued as soon as the right-of-way release is approved by council. We have been told that the right-of-way release will be submitted to council on September 7.”
The board will seek a suspension of the rules in hopes of discussing and approving it at a meeting, he said.
“That being said, we hope to have the grading permit ready for issuance by September 8,” he said.
The city approved road closures on Case Avenue, Union Street, and Oberman Place between Jackson and Adams streets, and the district installed temporary barricades in hopes of preventing students from developing traffic patterns on those streets , said Underwood.
JCHS construction will include: a baseball/softball field with dugouts, bullpen, batting cages and bleachers; a press box, concessions, toilets and storage facilities for use between pitches; a soccer field with lighting and bleachers for the house and visitors; a tennis complex with eight tennis courts and a clubhouse with restrooms, concessions, storage and an observation deck; and raising the visitor bleachers at Adkins Stadium.
Since the preparatory work for the additions to the athletic facilities at Capital City High School has already been laid, this project will not require as much preparation, such as excavation and demolition. A timeline for the CCHS project likely won’t be available until after contractor bids are released this fall, Berhorst said.
CCHS construction will include a press box, bleachers for home and visiting teams, concessions, restrooms and changing rooms for use between the football and soccer fields; dugouts, press box, concessions, restrooms and storage areas at the baseball/softball complex; and event parking adjacent to the soccer and football fields and close to the tennis courts.