Work stalled on new baseball, softball complex

There may be no joy at Hays High this spring as overages in the cost of the district’s $3.6 million baseball and softball complex could push construction back to January 2018.

Carter Scherff, Hays CISD deputy superintendent, said the district is in a holding pattern with the complex, which was approved by voters under Proposition 2 of the district’s May 2017 bond.  The district plans to obtain a recommendation from the district’s Facilities, Bond Oversight Committee (FBOC) on how to proceed.

The move comes after the guaranteed maximum price of two options for the complex, one with natural grass and one with artificial turf, are $881,661 and $1.6 million over budget, respectively.

Scherff said one of the major drivers for the overage was the amount of site work the district would have to do. That includes the construction of retention ponds for rainwater runoff and several other features.

Scherff said the district obtained its original estimate from StanTec, but didn’t add planning for the site. Hays CISD didn’t do “any further planning because planning costs money.”

“In looking at it, we figured the $3.6 million figure would be good,” Scherff said.

He added the district has had numerous projects that were proposed to the bond Growth Impact Committee (GIC) where planning wasn’t added into the preliminary estimates. Cost of additional planning was a primary factor in those decisions.

“We’re fortunate we have a group of architects that will do a reasonable amount of work for us for free,” Scherff said. “When we talk about development issues, they tend to want to be paid.”

He said the first thing was to obtain a ballpark figure for the facility. When the district moved through the process, the cost estimate was then moved forward as well.

“On that issue, had I wish I had done more? Yes,” Scherff said. “But at that point and time, I didn’t think it was absolutely necessary. I thought we had a good estimate.”

Tim Savoy, Hays CISD public information officer, said it is often more difficult for the district to predict cost estimates for smaller projects, than for larger ones. He cited the new welding facility constructed at Lehman High as part of the 2014 bond, which was over budget.

“Sometimes smaller projects are harder to predict with as much accuracy than on larger projects,” Savoy said.

The difference between the cost for natural grass and artificial turf, however, was expected, Scherff said.

Estimates for installing turf were roughly $1.2 million. Hays CISD officials originally planned for the complex to have natural grass, which was the version approved by voters in May.

The district now looks to the FBOC, which will recommend to the board of trustees on whether the field will have turf or grass, as well as how to fix the overage.

One plan the district is proposing is using potential savings from the 2014 bond to cover the cost of the field. District documents show Hays CISD has roughly $4 million in unallocated funds from the 2014 bond. Scherff said the district could also potentially use cost-savings from other items in Proposition 2 of the 2017 bond to mitigate the overage.

Scherff said district staff is expecting to take any recommendations from the FBOC to trustees in December.  If approved, construction may not start until January 2018, with the fields not completed until the fall of 2018.

“It’s not going to be ready for the baseball or softball season,” Savoy said.

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