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Posted: 04/30/14

RCS board seeking changes
to athletic bond

Observer Staff Writer
      The Romeo Community Schools Board of Education wants to see what improvements a $11 million atheltic facilities bond would buy.
       Following a presentation on April 21 showing how a proposed $7 million bond would renovate Barnabo Field, the board will consider upping the amount to $11 million for improved bleachers and restrooms.
       To have the bond ready for this year's election, the board has until early May to decide on increasing the bond. The change would require a tax increase but add amenities the $7 million figure couldn't provide.
       The board voted 6-1 at a special meeting on March 24 to pursue a $7 million bond that would not increase taxes and fund renovations to Barnabo Field. Trustee Chris Young was the dissenting vote.
       The project would increase seating in the bleachers, install synthetic turf and a new track as well as renovate the field's entryway. A new team room would include bathrooms and areas for athletes, coaches and officials.
       Also included would be new lighting, a new press box, concession stand and toilet rooms, new ticket booths and a driveway for buses to drop off students.
       Integrated Design Solutions (IDS), the district's architect firm, presented a plan on what the district could afford with its $7 million bond. Bill Lee of IDS said based on the proposed bond, the project had to be scaled back.
       "There are more needs and wants than there are dollars to buy them," Lee said.
       Lee said because of building codes that require enough restrooms for large crowds, there would be no increase in the bleacher sizes.
       "There is a cost in adding the bleachers, but there is also a cost in adding additional toilet facilities," he said. "By cutting down the seating capacity, we cut down the number of fixtures that we have to provide."
       Lee said to accomodate additional crowds, restroom facilities at the Romeo Engineering and Technology Center and Powell Middle School would need to be used. Otherwise, 75 toilet fixtures would need to be installed.
       Secretary Joe Fortuna pointed out that the plans also didn't include installing locker rooms for the athletes, calling it a basic need.
       "As someone who has coached football and has been an athlete my whole life, it's impractical to not have a locker room," he said. "It's kind of bush league compared to what the rest of the county is going to be comparing us to."
       Superintendent Nancy Campbell said the locker rooms were one area the district had to scale back, but the team rooms do provide enough space to talk and strategize.
       "We thought we would be able to even do more, but we wanted a no-increase bond," she said.
       Lee said with the work that would have to be done on top of the cost for locker rooms at $330 per square foot, it wasn't likely they could be included in the $7 million bond.
       IDS did have a layout for a $11 million bond that would include the expanded bleachers as well as additional toilets and a reconfigured parking lot. A $11 million bond would require an increase to taxes.
       To alter the bond amount, the board would have to vote on changing the $7 million figure. Administrators informed the board that it would have to be approved in early May.
       Young said with the limitations of a $7 million bond, he would rather wait a year and develop a plan to bring to the community on needing more funds.
       "If we're not going to go full-heartedly and get everything done properly and just phase it and keep asking for more for this, I think that's the wrong way to go," he said.
       Treasurer Gus Demas agreed with Young, saying the $7 million didn't seem like it would provide enough funding to complete the project the way the district intended.
       "It seems like we're trying to fit a size 11 foot into a size 10 shoe," he said.
       Young made a motion to table the bond and hold discussions on seeking a bond for other facilities. The motion died from lack of support.
       Board members said the facilities were important to address, but considered them a separate issue from Barnabo Field.
       "I think our strategy has been successful so far of keep trying to eat the elephant a bite at a time instead of the whole elephant," said Vice-president Chris Giancarli.
       Board President Ed Sosnoski said the bond isn't just about football, but for lacrosse, track, soccer, band and hosting events.
       "The end result is, in my opinion, to give the community what they deserve, to give the kids what they deserve," he said.
       The district will submit the bond to the Michigan Department of Treasury on June 4. Bond language must be approved by August to be on the November ballot.

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Retrieved 8/3/2015 at 9:20:53 PM.
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