2016-10-13 / Front Page

Vote set for $15-$17 million rec project

Operations millage also needed
By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

EIKE EIKE Voters in the Suttons Bay School District will be asked next spring to approve bond and millage requests to build and operate a new community center.

The Board of Education voted 6-1 Monday night, with Trustee Kim Eike opposed, to put the community center and pool bond proposal before voters in May.

The exact cost and the millage levies needed to build and operate the facility have not yet been finalized, but separate millages totalling at least 3 mills would be required.

Superintendent Chris Nelson presented the board with documents outlining plans for two different plans:

 Option One would have one pool to provide recreational use and aqua-therapy. Water in the recreational side of the pool would be kept at a cooler temperature than the portion used for therapy.

 Option Two would have separate pools for recreation and aqua-therapy.

Option One calls for demolition of 13,200 square feet of space at the Middle School, remodeling 43,813 square feet and the addition of just over 16,000 square feet in new construction. The option includes a six-lane competition recreation pool, three exercise rooms, gymnasium, pickleball court and an open cafe and commons area.

Option Two also includes 13,200 square feet of demolition and 43,813 of remodeled space. However, it includes the addition of nearly 24,000 square feet — 16,488 on the first floor and 7,360 square feet on a second floor. Space for exercise, a gym and pickle-ball court has also been drafted.

Cost of the one-pool facility is estimated at $15.2 million; the two-pool option, $17.2 million.

“The community supported two separate pools in the survey,” Nelson said.

Some 2.10 mills would be needed to repay a 20-year bond on the $15.2 million project; 2.63 mills over 15 years.

A 2.37-mill levy would pay off the $17.2 million project over 20 years. Some 2.98 mills would pay off the bonds over 15 years.

In addition, a separate “recreation” millage of .85 mill would be needed to support operational costs of the facility, which are estimated at $350,000 a year.

Both the bond proposal and the recreational millage would have to be approved to make the project a go, Nelson said.

That would be in addition to the 1.27 mills now levied to repay bonds sold after voter approval of a $7 million bond sale in November 2015 for the purchase of buses and computers as well other instructional technology for classrooms.

“The vote tonight indicates your intention to move forward, knowing that you have time to tweak the plans before it goes to a vote,” Nelson said.

The deadline to submit ballot language for the May 2017 elections is Feb. 7.

In the meantime, Nelson and business manager LeeAnn Eustice are scheduled to travel to Lansing on Dec. 12 to present plans to the Department of Treasury. State approval is required for the proposal to go to a vote.

Board members may also take a road trip to East Jordan, Harbor Springs and Manistee Public Schools as all three school systems have pools that are made available to the public.

Not all School Board members supported the proposal at Monday’s meeting.

Trustee Kim Eike was the lone “no” vote among the board members.

“Is the school the right entity to develop a community center?” he asked. “If we do, will this deplete the time administration and board members spend on the education of students?”

In May, the Board of Education received conceptual plans for a nearly 80,000 square-foot recreational facility with a price tag of $22.5 million.

The proposed building project was to have been financed through a construction bond.

Initially it was thought that operation of the facility could be turned over the Traverse Bay YMCA and supported by an additional recreation millage. But that was scrapped after a feasibility study showed that the community would likely only provide 165 “members” — not enough to support construction of the community center as discussed.

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