Equity concerns arise in Hays softball, baseball complex talks

Equity among baseball and softball fields at Hays CISD high schools hit the board of trustees dais Monday.

The discussion came as the district reviewed a proposed list of approved architects and delivery methods for 2017 bond projects.

One of the items the district is working on is the $3.6 million baseball/softball complex at Hays High, which was part of Proposition 2 of Hays CISD’s May bond initiative.

Stantec, which Hays CISD used to design the Lehman High baseball and softball fields, is the lead architect in the project.

Carter Scherff, Hays CISD acting superintendent, said the plan for the district it to construct Hays’ new complex similar to what is currently being built for the new third high school on FM 967 in Buda.

Those two stadiums are currently being designed to accommodate 6A high school play. Scherff estimated the capacity at the baseball field at 1,000 seats, while seating at the softball complex would be approximately 500.

“It should be fairly adequate for some tournaments,” Scherff said. He added if the district begins on the project immediately, the new complex at Hays would be open for the 2018 season.

Whenever Hays CISD builds a fourth high school campus, the district will look at constructing a district-wide athletic complex, Scherff said. Such a venue would house a football, baseball, softball and soccer field, as well as a track.

“It will be designed to host district-wide events and state wide tournaments,” Scherff said.

When asked about parking, Scherff said there are 50 parking spaces planned at Hays’ baseball, softball complex. Additional parking would be directly behind the current Hays High band hall, which is within walking distance to the fields. The “long-term” goal is to turn the area where Hays High’s current baseball field is located into a supplemental parking lot.

Board trustee Vanessa Petrea said citizens have concerns that the district has, in the past, underbuilt projects in order to save revenue. She wanted to ensure the district wasn’t short-sighting baseball and softball athletes.

“My intention is to spend every penny of the $3.6 million and spend it very wisely to get as much as we can for Hays High School,” SCherff said.

However, Scherff said the fields at the district’s new third high school will be larger than those at Lehman High.

Board trustee Teresa Tobias said district leaders were told the field at High School No. 3 would be “comparable” to Lehman’s.

“I did not realize the difference when we started the process,” Scherff said.

Scherff said the district will “go back later” and replace the grass at Lehman’s baseball and softball field with field turf. Other changes will extend the stands, as one of the chief complaints at Lehman is line-of-sight issues.

But Tobias wanted to make sure changes to Lehman athletic facilities wouldn’t be set aside.

“I just want to make sure we’re being fair to all of the schools,” Tobias said.

Board trustee Holly Raymond said one way the district could pay for such changes is to use funds from the operations and maintenance budget. She said she also understood that “people are watching” when it comes to equality of fields.

Trustee Esperanza Orosco forwarded concerns about the district using the same architect who designed the Lehman baseball and softball fields. She cited small grandstands and the field being too close together as safety concerns.

Scherff said the district is “very involved with the process” and that Betsy Russell, Hays CISD director of student activities, makes certain every drawing the district got is “looked at very thoroughly.”

Russell also flagged several changes in the first set of drawings for the field with the help of Hays’ softball and baseball coaches.

Russell said she contacted Hays High coaches and gathered feedback immediately after the district met with architects two weeks ago. After that, Russell provided a summary to the architects.

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