The process of installing tennis courts and turf for the baseball and softball fields has taken its next step for Gainesville ISD.
On Monday, July 15, the school board unanimously approved the selection of Hellas as the design and build firm for the project after GISD Superintendent DesMontes Stewart presented the materials provided by Hellas in the district’s request for quotation.
The board approved the cost of the tennis complex, which is not to exceed $1 million, and the turfing of the fields, which is not to exceed $1.5 million.
Board member Nathan Dempsey was absent from the vote.
The first of the two items addressed was the tennis courts and Stewart led off by saying he was giving the board an update on where the process stood.
“We looked at several options,” Stewart said. “Normally you see tennis complexes coming with six or eight [courts], but looking at the space we are trying to utilize, we couldn’t fit eight in there comfortably, so we elected to go with six.”
Stewart elaborated on where the tennis complex would be.
“Initially, the complex was further south, so we slid it back to the student parking lot for one key reason — it eliminates a lot of the flatwork that has to be done,” Stewart said. “That was a cost-cutting measure that I think will serve us well as we get to the next phase of the process.”
Design-build packets were released to Hellas, FieldTurf, EnviroTurf, Symmetry Turf, but Hellas was the only vendor who submitted a response.
Stewart then described the design and build firm Hellas and its reputation.
“We had one vendor supply all the requested materials for the RFQDB [request for quotation design build],” Stewart said. “Hellas construction is a nationally known firm who has done projects for a lot of big universities, the Dallas Cowboys and a number of professional teams. They are very highly respected throughout the state of Texas with the work they have done.”
The general blueprint of the tennis complex was also discussed.
“The next phase is for my team and the Hellas design team to really sit down and talk about what we want the complexes to look like,” Stewart said. “Do we want irrigation? Do we want grass? Once all those items are brought to the table, the design team will go back and come up with a price analysis. Then we will know what the price looks like.”
Stewart said there was no need to add bathrooms or locker rooms to the complex because there were others in the vicinity. Stewart said that decision would cut down on the cost.
Stewart proposed to the board the idea of having Hellas come to the budget meeting July 29 to discuss the design.
Lights and bleachers considered were also considered in the tennis complex, Stewart said.
One of the design ideas brought up by the board was to enclose the tennis complex so that admission could be charged.
“That’s something I’ll definitely bring to the table,” Stewart said. “We’ll definitely look to enclose it. It’s not a come and go. When I was a high school principal, we had a tennis complex and we charged. Our parents paid to come in. Not to say that’s the whole design behind this, but generally they will pay.”
Stewart said he was willing to escalate that part of the design if the board saw fit.
When the board asked if the complex would be open to the public, Stewart said that was the goal.
“We’ll definitely have to carefully monitor that, but if we’re going to invest all this money into the facility, we definitely want to make sure we’re taken care of,” Stewart said. “We’ll definitely look to make it available to our community. I’ve already had some people approach me about that.”
The attention then turned to the turfing of the baseball and softball fields.
“It’s pretty much the same spiel I just gave,” Stewart said. “Hellas was the only vendor that supplied all the required materials. Going down the first-base line and third-base line, we’ll have Gainesville on one side and Leopards on the other side to give it more curb appeal. They’re going turf from wall to wall from backstop to outfield as well as the bullpen areas and the batting cage area, so pretty much all of the complexes and the side areas.”
The idea of enclosures for the baseball and softball fields was also broached by the board and Stewart had a similar answer as he did for the tennis complex.
“That’s also in the plans as well with our baseball and softball fields is enclosing them,” Stewart said. “I’ve engaged in those conversations as well.”
Parking is a future conversation, according to Stewart.
When the board asked if the turf fields could be used as a way to recoup some of the cost, Stewart agreed.
“Then of course there will be interest from local baseball and softball clubs that want to utilize the turf field, especially during the rainy season,” Stewart said. “Not to say that it will pay for itself, but it does turn into a revenue source.”
Stewart said by text message Tuesday, July 16, that the money required for the tennis complex and the turfing of the fields would come from the “fund balance,” which Stewart described as a district savings account.
Patrick Hayslip can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip
Question of the week
Would you be willing to pay an admission fee to attend tennis, baseball and softball games at Gainesville High School? Read more about plans to improve GHS sports facilities at gainesvilleregister.com.