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The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. is pledging to make sure a plan to build high school softball fields at Southside Elementary School will not lead to a loss of open play areas for Southside students.
District officials made the pledge to Southside parent Kari Nusterer during a school board meeting Monday during which they shared details of an estimated $1.25 million plan that would:
Overlay an old track with side-by-side varsity and junior varsity fields for Columbus North High School athletes.
Build a walking path around Southside’s playing field and playground.
Build a new press box, seating, covered dugouts, batting cage, ticket booth and storage building.
Nusterer and her sons, Mark and Kurt, had expressed concern that the room taken for the two fields would force Southside children into a tighter play space during the school day.
Superintendent John Quick, however, said the outfields would be opened up to those children when not in use, and the district would make upgrades to land on the school property that is currently unusable and non-irrigated, so it can be used as well.
Jim Funk, principal of Indianapolis-based CSO Architects, the consulting group heading the project, would look into how to make the non-irrigated land usable before the next meeting on Nov. 11, Quick said.
The 30-plus acres are the only reasonable area in the district to build the fields, due to a lack of space at other district-owned locations, Quick said.
A plan for new fields has been on the school district’s radar for several years, given the need to consolidated game play for North teams that currently practice and play their games north of Northside Middle School, 1400 27th St., and at Lincoln Park off 25th Street.
North High School is landlocked and has no room to grow on-site, Quick said. The district’s solution originally was to build the fields at an outdoor sports complex the city planned to build along Water Street. When plans for the complex were scrapped, the district went with their own plan to build the fields at Southside.
Quick said the upcoming project was not made part of a $23.5 million plan that is renovating 14 of the district’s 18 schools because the fields are considered a lesser priority. He said now is a good time to build them, however, because money is available and the district does not need to go into debt or raise property taxes. He said the project would be paid for with existing, property tax-derived capital improvement dollars.
Board officials will ask school board members Nov. 11 to allow advertising for bids on the softball fields project and a separate plan to add new bleachers and on-site locker rooms next to the Columbus East High School football field along Marr Road.
The East project is expected to cost about $2.1 million, which would come out of the district’s capital improvement fund.
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