Board poised to earmark money for athletic facilities

PW-S school officials appear ready to commit $725,000 from land sale to $7.8 million high school fields project

LOOKING SOUTH, a rendering by Point of Beginning, a landscape architecture firm, shows new artificial turf softball and baseball fields on the north end of Port Washington High School’s outdoor athletic complex and an artificial turf football field on the south end. The football field would be ringed by a new eight-lane running track, and new restrooms and a concession stand would be built between the football and baseball fields. New football field bleachers and a road along the west side of the complex would improve accessibility for people with handicaps.
By 
BILL SCHANEN IV
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Port Washington-Saukville School Board appears poised to earmark $725,000 in proceeds from the sale of district property for the first phase of a $7.8 million overhaul of Port Washington High School outdoor athletic facilities.

Director of Business Services Jim Froemming told the board Monday that in addition to covering about one-third of the cost of the first phase of the project — a $2.2 million renovation of the baseball fields — an investment by the district could also jump-start the fundraising efforts of the PWSSD Foundation Inc.

The recently incorporated nonprofit organization, of which Froemming is a member, was formed to benefit the school district and is focused on raising money for the athletic facilities project.

“If we can get one-third of the way there, that would really spawn some interest in this project,” School Board President Brenda Fritsch said. “This (the district’s investment) might be the catalyst to get the foundation going.”

But School Board member Marchell Longstaff asked about the district’s priorities, noting there are other capital improvement needs in the district, especially at Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

“My concern is we put the $725,000 into the (athletic facilities) project and all of a sudden something happens at TJ and it’s ‘Uh-oh, we’re out of money,’” she said. “I just don’t want anyone coming back to me and asking how come we only spend money on sports.”

Supt. Michael Weber said the district has ample reserve funds to address the needs at the middle school, the result of a concerted effort to budget money annually for maintenance and build up the district’s fund balance.

“So now we’re facing some capital improvement needs, especially at TJ, and we’re in a position to take money from fund balance to pay for improvements,” he said.

The two-phase athletic facility project consists of a $5.6 million overhaul of the south end of the high school facilities that would include the installation of an artificial turf football field, an eight-lane running track to replace the current six-lane track, an access road running along the west side of the fields and new home-team bleachers that would make the complex accessible to people with disabilities. 

A new concession stand and bathrooms, as well as a plaza on the hill along the east side of the field for pre-game functions, is also planned.

The $2.2 million phase would include artificial turf baseball, softball and practice fields to the north of the football field and new lighting, dugouts, a backstop, bullpen and scoreboard. The baseball fields would also be accessible to people with disabilities.

Initially, the football field phase of the project was the priority, but now the district and foundation are focused on the baseball field phase. The change in priorities was prompted in part by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association’s decision to, beginning next year, move its summer baseball season to spring when notoriously wet weather will put a premium on artificial turf fields.

And at less than half the cost of the football field phase of the project, the baseball field work is more manageable, administrators said. 

Weber said that some components of the football field phase, such as the restrooms, concession stand and access road, could be incorporated into the first phase of the work.

The only investment the School Board has talked about making in the project is the $725,000. As the project is envisioned now, the foundation would raise the balance of the money.

The district’s share would come from the sale of 54.4 acres on Port Washington’s west side that it purchased in 1969 and held onto as a future school site until earlier this year.

The property, seen as an ideal site for residential development, was purchased by Hillcrest Investments, which is owned by local businessmen Randy Buser and Jeff Mayer.

Even before the board began talking seriously about investing the proceeds from the sale in the athletic facility project, the money was earmarked for capital improvements. Using it for another purpose, such as tax relief, would make the district appear wealthier under the state school financing formula and cost the district a significant amount of state aid.

Investing the money in the athletic facilities is in keeping with the board’s expectations, Weber said.

“We owned the property since 1969, and when the board made the decision to sell, it wanted the money to be used for a project that was visible and benefited the community,” he said.

The board is expected to vote on earmarking $725,000 for the athletic facility project in the near future.

Feedback:

Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494
 

CONNECT


User login