The Mercer County Board of Education is moving forward with building a softball/baseball complex and renovating the soccer press box. According to a statement of probable cost being filed with the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), the total project cost is $5.51 million dollars. In December 2021, the board was told the projects could cost $2.9 million.
While prices continue to rise, Superintendent Jason Booher said he and the board are excited about the project, which has been greeted with enthusiasm by coaches, players and families. Booher also said he hoped the project would come in under estimate when it was finally bid out.
At last week’s regular meeting, Beth Bauer, project manager with Ross Tarrant Architects of Lexington, walked the board through some of the changes and presented them with options for possibly saving money even as labor and material costs continues to rise. Bauer said they are still trying to find an acceptable solution for the rest rooms at the soccer press box.
She said the Kentucky Division of Plumbing maintains that the rest room has to be sized according to the size of the bleachers, not game attendance. The state originally said if attendance exceeded 200, people could use bathrooms at nearby King Middle School. But since the bleachers at the soccer field—which was originally a football field—seat 800 people, the state now insists that the district needs to either constructs additional stalls or demolish some of the bleachers.
“Anything over 200, you have to add stalls,” Bauer told the board. “Once you start working on it, it has to meet the code.”
Bauer said school districts across the state will have to deal with this when building outside venues.
Board member Cliff Prewitt noted the state had been fine with people using port-a-potties.
Bauer said the estimate was $300,000 more than what was presented last month. She suggested making soccer project an alternate, which would lower costs. However, Superintendent Jason Booher objected, saying there are equity issues with possibly keeping port-a-potties at the soccer field but the baseball and softball complex getting new facilities. If the state rejects the project, Bauer said the price could be triple the current estimate.
Ultimately, the board approved advertising for bids for the Mercer County Athletics Improvement project.
Bauer said they hope to get bidding out by May 9 with a prebid meeting tentatively scheduled for May 7 at 2 p.m. at the board office.
After an executive session, the board agreed to sell property on East Factory Street for $100,000 and to purchase approximately 20 acres of property on Industry Road from Harrodsburg United Methodist Church, Inc. for $450,000 subject to receipt of an appraisal, title examination, physical inspection, approval by the Kentucky Department of Education and other terms and conditions.
If the sale goes through, the property on Industry Road will be the future site of the new MCES building. In order to acquire the land, the board hired Ross Tarrant Architects to complete the site survey.