• 37°

Danville softball field project moves forward with lower cost estimate

Danville Board of Education members had some sticker shock last week when they heard the new softball facility they want to build behind Bate Middle School could cost around a quarter of a million dollars more than they were planning for. But concern gave way to optimism at Monday night’s board meeting, when an alternative proposal was presented that could allow the project to proceed well under the original price estimate.

Superintendent Tammy Shelton cautioned that the proposal used rough numbers and offered to board members that staff could firm up the estimates more if the board wanted them to.

Christy Denny and Paul Dean, the district’s director of administrative services and director of finance, went over the original cost estimates for the project line by line and found 11 items they believe the district can handle in-house, such as landscaping, infield preparation and “site accessories” like a PA system, bleachers and scoreboard. They also eliminated the concessions and restroom facility from the current project; that building could be bid out separately in the future, Shelton said.

The result: an estimated $471,056.10 price tag for construction of the softball field and an additional approximately $41,325 in costs to handle the 11 items in-house.

That total estimate of about $512,000 is well below the $657,000 cost the board already has approval from the state on — and less than 59 percent of the $917,000 price tag that popped some eyes last week.

Board Chair Paige Matthews said she would “like to have a little more time and discussion” about the new, lower numbers before approving. Shelton said that would be possible.

“Christy and Paul did work diligently, but it was a good bit (of information) to try to pull together in a week,” Shelton said. “We could get some more solid numbers.”

But the board was ultimately swayed in favor of moving forward because doing so does not commit them to spending any money; it just allows the schematic design to be submitted to the Kentucky Department of Education.

Matthews agreed to go along with approval once it was clear the other members were in favor. Board member Troy McCowan said he was OK with the new, lower cost estimate.

“Last week, I would have shot this and it would have been done,” he said.

Consultant John Carman said the goal is to get the project bid in early 2019. If a contractor makes a bid the board finds acceptable, construction could begin as early as March and could be complete by the late summer or fall of 2019, he said.

Board member Steve Becker made the motion to approve and that “the board commit to getting this project moved (forward) since we’ve only been working on it for 17 years.” The motion passed unanimously, and many in the audience applauded.

When it was time for public comments at the end of the meeting, Donnie Dampier, a softball parent, said the field has been something the Danville district has needed for a long time.

“I just want to make sure it stays on the front-burner,” he said. “I know you all haven’t seen a lot of softball parents in here. It doesn’t mean we’re not interested.”

Dampier said Danville’s other athletic facilities are “top-notch — but our softball is not.”

Many nearby districts have excellent softball facilities, he said, naming Garrard County specifically. “Our girls deserve just as much if not more than what the other programs around here have.”