Brainerd School Board members unanimously approved a plan to improve the football, tennis, baseball and track segments of the lower athletic site. That site is built on swamp-like ground, in close proximity to the Mississippi River.
If the board is able to decide on the funding method for the $3.4 million project, the fields will be replaced with synthetic turf. The facility’s track would be a composite of latex rubber or polyurethane and an asphalt base. (A rubber surface has a life expectancy of 12 years and a polyurethane surface should last 20 years.)
Most sports enthusiasts are interested in the football and baseball fields. Annual maintenance of natural grass fields costs approximately $10,000 to $17,000. It costs approximately $4,000 a year to maintain synthetic turf fields.
For tennis buffs and the districts’ tennis teams eight new tennis courts would cost approximately $522,854, according to Anderson-Johnson Associates, Inc. estimates.
It’s no longer a matter of whether the district will make the improvements to the sports complex. It’s a matter of how will the financing of the estimated $3.4 million be done. On that issue, the board was divided. Equally.
On a 3-3 vote, the board was deadlocked on whether to fund the project by a lease levy or issue a general obligation bond with a 10-year wrap around. Both votes failed to move the project along.
Superintendent Steve Razidlo said board members must not delay the project, which should open for the 2014-15 school year if the funding issue can be resolved.
A lease levy would be most expedient. It would, however, push the district to 70 percent of its maximum lease levy limit. (The district is currently at 43 percent of its limit.)
If bonds are the route the board chooses, it could mean a vote in an election at a cost of $50,000, which is not factored into the cost of constructing the project.
We agree with Superintendent Razidlo, who is recommending the lease levy means of funding the upgrade to the lower sports complex. Let’s get it done.