Northwestern Local Schools will move forward with plans to build a $3.4 million athletic complex on the district’s campus.
The new, 16,000-square-foot building will be close to the current football stadium and include public restrooms, concession stands, a large multipurpose room that will fit a wrestling mat, batting cages, a weight room, storage area, a community room, locker rooms, a training room and coaches’ offices, Northwestern Superintendent Jesse Steiner said.
“We need the space,” he said. “We have no storage, we don’t have any locker rooms down by the football field, which is an issue because we have had many soccer games where the weather is not good. We needed to send people off the field to get out of the weather and had no place for them to go.”
The school board voted Thursday morning to hire Garmann Miller as an architect for the project.
“Garmann Miller is well respected,” Steiner said. “They are capable of this.”
The board discussed two architects and picked Garmann Miller because of its history. School board member Russ Steele said he liked the idea of working with a company he knew and trusted.
“What drives me to Garmann Miller is that we’ve already engaged them to do a lot of our work and if they are equally qualified why would we (go back) and start all over again?” he said. “That wouldn’t make much sense to me personally.”
The board voted unanimously to hire Garmann Miller.
Previously the board voted to allow the school’s administration to find money for the project. Steiner said $1 million has been put aside for the project and the school will use existing permanent improvement levy dollars to pay for the rest.
It will take about 12 years to pay off the building, he said.
“That’s exactly what permanent improvement money is for,” Steiner said. “I can’t use it to pay teacher’s salaries, benefits or school supplies. I can only use the money to improve the facilities, repairs, upgrades and building projects. Anything that is going to last longer than five years.”
Northwestern also doesn’t want to waste any time in building the complex. Steiner hopes to have the bids out soon and the building ready to use by the start of next school year.
“We would like for the facility to be open at the start of the next fall sports season,” Steiner said. “We are going to have to move quickly. We really need to get our bids out in January to get ahead of the game to get good pricing. Hopefully, we can be in for the fall sports season.”
The school’s boosters had wanted to raise money for the building. But it was a lofty goal, Steiner said, and they weren’t able to reach it. They plan to continue to raise money for the complex and hope to assist with furnishing the facility.
“They struggled to find donors,” Steiner said. “They are still going to be doing fundraising and they will be launching the complex. They are going to be looking at that side of it.”
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