Francis Howell High School is getting a new athletic complex, that much is known. What it looks like is now the question.
Back in February, after weeks of discussion, the that has a baseball field, a softball field and other amenities. Last Thursday, during the June 21 meeting, the board approved a construction contract to Lamb Construction to build the $2,257,000 complex.
With those two road blocks out of the way, only one big one remains: Design.
Thursday night, at board's special end-of-the-year meeting, the board will discuss add alternates on the project. A brick backstop and a turf infield, items not on the original design, have been discussed as extra features for the baseball field.
Chief Financial Officer Kevin Supple said the district would take bids for the extras, but that it wasn't something the district would fund. He said if a turf infield is wanted, the boosters could pay for it.
If the add alternates are denied, a more basic design—one modeled after the fields at Howell Central, would be implemented.
"We were trying not to create greater disparity by now introducing turf infield and brick backstops, when that is not the conditions at the other high school nor is that the plans at the other high schools," Supple said.
Board member Mike Hoehn disagreed last week with the approach calling the design outdated.
"We can do it right at the school and have the other schools catch up.” he said Hoehn.
Just like he said last year when pushing more expensive tennis courts, Hoehn said the higher costs now would lead to savings in the long run.
“Sometimes you have to spend a few more dollars on the front end to save money on the back end," he said. "... We worry to save a penny now when we can save a dollar down the road.”
Board Vice President Mark Lafata was not in favor of improving the design.
"I don’t understand the need to always improve the Howell facility until it’s a professional sports facility," Lafata said.
Lafata said the extras just add money to the project. He said that if Hoehn was so interested in making Howell the best it could be, he should fund it himself and not have the district foot the bill.
“Write a check Mr. Hoehn," Lafata said. "If you want all these things, write a check.”
Hoehn said it wasn't a matter of him wanting things, but rather trying to have Howell be the best it can be.
"I'm trying to make sure we’re moving forward and doing what's in the best interest of the students, the community and in the district," he said.
Hoehn then added that, "If I had the money, id write a check, but I don’t have the money."
Board treasurer Amy McEvoy said that when you build a new school, parity is nearly impossible to maintain. Lafata said that with the extras, it would continue to put Howell on a different level than other schools in the district.
“Nothing I've heard tonight save us money,” he said. “... I think we’ve gone overboard down at Howell."
Since the contract only was meant for construction purposes, and not design, the board voted 6-0 to give the contract Lamb Construction to build the $2,257,000 complex.