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Grand slam project may foul out

On a project that seemed like a grand slam, Hays CISD Monday managed to foul out.

Perhaps it’s ironic that a whole lot of green will be needed before the district resolves its baseball, softball complex playing surface controversy at Hays High.

No matter how the discussion shakes out, however, one couldn’t help but feel for the baseball and softball players who are now left in the middle of the district’s bond boondoggle.

How Hays CISD has handled trying to build the proposed $3.6 million complex has been nothing short of an unmitigated disaster.

Giving the green light on a project that is now close to a million dollars over the planned estimate is disconcerting for an entity that spent months trying to get this project right.

It’s a frustrating sight for taxpayers who entrusted district officials with doing its due diligence before bringing a bond proposal to voters. How a project can go from $3.6 million to $4.4 or $5.2 million is a rather stunning development.

It was also frustrating to realize the district didn’t quite value the input from constituents on how this project was going to be designed.

Over the course of several months before the big May election, Hays High coaches, players and fans all advocated, asked and, at times, begged for the district to design the field with artificial turf in mind.

Instead, the district chose to plan for the field to have natural grass to save money, with the possibility of having turf as an alternate if there were funds left over. 

Therein lies the rub for many who left Monday’s school board meeting feeling hotter than a 90-mile-per-hour fastball in August.

While nothing was formally promised, or even put in writing, many believed the district could follow through on potentially placing a synthetic turf surface to the field.

Many also believed the district could somehow, some way, finish its complex project before the 2018 season ended.

However, if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas.

It’s hard to say how a synthetic surface could impact play on the field. I’m not a turf expert and I’m not going to pretend to be.

But the prospect of the district’s complexes hosting future playoff games, tournaments and select league games is something that may not happen for a while.

And that’s a bit of a shame for a district that is trying to save every penny it can. Losing out on the potential to maybe make a little money for a million-plus dollar enterprise seems rather silly.

What is lost in this fiasco is how Hays CISD may have broadened inequity in its athletic programs.

By the time a synthetic playing surface is placed on the playing fields at the newly named Johnson High, district leaders may be in the beginning stages of trying to figure out how to fund placing turf at Lehman and Hays.

It’s a disservice for current athletes, both at Hays and Lehman, to potentially wait another two-plus years before planning begins on improvement and facilities upgrades.

At the end of the day, Hays High will have a much more improved baseball and softball facility.

But Hays CISD can do better in how it approaches future endeavoers. Its players, fans and coaches deserve it.

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