The Sun Prairie School Board voted unanimously on March 15 to approve two change orders totaling $1.14 million for the new Sun Prairie West High School to construct a third baseball diamond and install artificial turf on the school’s multi-purpose competition field.
“To complete both projects now instead of five years after the opening of Sun Prairie West High School,” Sun Prairie Area School District (SPASD) Director of Facilities and Grounds Kevin Sukow wrote, “the district would experience an estimated cost savings of over $850,000.”
The first change order from Findorff will construct a third baseball field at Sun Prairie West High School for $599,964, and the second change order from Findorff will install artificial turf on the multipurpose competition field in lieu of natural turf for an addition of $540,467 to the Sun Prairie West High School project.
To offset the costs of the change orders, district administration recommended allocating $416,000 from the sale of land near Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School (soon to be Central Heights Middle School) to Sun Prairie Utilities and $724,611 from referendum and conserved funds.
In April 2019, SPASD voters approved two referendum questions to allow the SPASD to undertake multiple construction projects. One project was a second comprehensive high school building with a supporting physical education and athletic campus. The basis of design for the site of the school was to provide equitable facilities when compared to what was available at the existing Sun Prairie East High School campus.
In his report, Sukow provided background on the athletic facilities.
On the immediate campus, Sun Prairie East High School has two baseball fields, two softball fields, two multipurpose practice fields, and one multipurpose competition field and track/field complex. Another soccer field and tennis courts are located on land immediately adjacent to the high school property. These are managed by the SPASD through a long-term lease agreement with the City of Sun Prairie. Within one mile of the high school site are additional supporting facilities at the CHUMS/PPA campus as well as at Sheehan Park.
Sukow wrote the Sun Prairie West High School campus design includes as many of the same amenities as possible while contending with the unique challenges created by the shape of the site.
As opposed to the box-shape of Sun Prairie East, the Sun Prairie West campus site is longer and more narrow. The original site concept contained two baseball fields, two softball fields, two multipurpose practice fields, one multipurpose competition track/field complex, and tennis courts.
At the nearby Meadow View Elementary campus, there are limited field expansion capabilities.
“During the design of the SPWHS campus, two main concerns emerged in relation to the campus’s athletic facilities,” Sukow wrote.
The first concern was the lack of supporting facilities in close proximity to the SPWHS campus. SPEHS has four additional multipurpose fields, a baseball field and a softball complex within a mile, but no such facilities are close enough to support SPWHS.
“This means that weather, field maintenance and/or facility scheduling will have a greater impact on students at the SPWHS campus,” Sukow pointed out in his report.
The second concern is the distance between the school building and the supporting athletic facilities on the campus. Compared to the current high school campus, many fields are almost twice as far from the building.
“This is not an insurmountable challenge, but it will provide operational difficulties for athletics and physical education classes,” Sukow wrote. “There will be more instructional time lost when traveling to the fields. Also, the proximity of the multipurpose competition field will make the field much more important as it will be the easiest field for physical education classes to use.”
To address the first concern, Sukow proposed adding a third baseball field to the SPWHS campus.
“The decision was previously made to use artificial turf on one of the softball fields at SPWHS. This will allow more availability due to less recovery/maintenance needs as well as quicker recovery after weather events. This helps address some (but does not alleviate all) of the concerns about not having a supporting facility for softball in close proximity,” Sukow wrote.
Both of the planned baseball fields will be natural turf and will experience more downtime due to recovery and weather. Therefore, the decision was made to ask the design team to provide an alternate design for adding a third baseball field to the facilities master plan which could be added either as a bid alternate or at a later time.
To address the second concern, Sukow proposed changing the multipurpose competition field material within the track at the SPWHS campus from natural turf to artificial turf.
“To establish good natural turf growth — during times of grass growth, maintenance, weather events, and recovery during seasonal use — the use of the field needs to be restricted by the grounds staff to physical education or athletics,” Sukow said. “This would require the physical education department to utilize fields further away from the school building and it will also reduce opportunities for scheduling practices and competitions. If artificial turf is utilized, it eliminates the need for recovery after use and also allows the field to be usable more quickly after weather events.
“Ultimately,” Sukow added, “this will allow the field to be used more often and for longer periods for physical education, athletics, and community use.
Since the two solutions were identified early after evaluating the site, the SPASD was able to ask the designers at Bray Associates and Findorff to investigate both the immediate and delayed costs of implementing the solutions of a third baseball field and artificial turf on the multipurpose competition field.
To construct the third baseball field as part of the SPWHS construction project, Sukow said, a proposed change order from the construction manager for the amount of $599,964.
“There are no offsetting costs, as the proposed area for the field is currently planned as undeveloped grass area,” Sukow said.
To construct the field in 2027, Sukow estimated the field would cost over $750,000 due to inflation, the need to mobilize and install temporary construction access to the area, and the need to export soil now and then import the soil for the field construction.
To install artificial turf on the multipurpose competition field as part of the current construction project in lieu of natural turf, there is a proposed change order from our construction manager for $540,467. The total cost for implementing the artificial turf is $810,853, but there is a deduction of $270,206 due to currently planned items that would not be needed.
“This estimate also includes an allowance for soil stabilization if it is needed,” Sukow said.
To construct the field in 2027, Sukow estimated the total cost of installing artificial turf would be $1,241,658 which would include the costs associated with installing the natural turf, removing the natural turf, sub-soil modifications, import/export material, mobilization and inflation.
Sun Prairie School Board members who commented on the project (see the online version of this story to view a PDF presentation about the project) said it makes sense to do it now before the school opens.
One of those in support was board member Carol Sue Albright. “I fully support this now,” Albright said. “I think it makes great sense.”
Board Treasurer Caren Diedrich asked about whether facilities at each high school would be equal.
“I don’t know about equal,” remarked SPASD Assistant Superintendent of Operations Janet Rosseter. “We’re trying to get equitable.”
Board members unanimously approved the change orders.