Nearly $3 million in bond funds remains untouched, four years after Calallen Independent School District officials proposed a new multipurpose athletic facility.
In 2007, voters approved $2.9 million for an athletic/aquatic facility as part of the district’s bond election. The facility would contain both an indoor practice field and swimming pool for Calallen athletes. Fast forward to December 2010, when trustees rejected project bids more than $2 million over bond estimates.
For the past nine months, the project has been put on hold as the district works to finish other projects connected to the 2007 bond effort.
At the time of the proposed bond, the public came to the board on both sides of the issue. Several spoke out against including an indoor athletic field, calling it an unnecessary expense given the renovations done to the field at Wildcat Stadium at that time. Others called for enlarging the pool beyond its scope, not wanting to see the pool short changed for future competition considerations.
“The project just became too big,” CISD Superintendent Arturo Almendarez said. He said the administration’s original recommendation of a four-to six-lane indoor practice pool was expanded to include eight lanes for UIL competition and the inclusion of a diving well.
“It would be difficult for me to take this project back to the board in the near future. It all depends on what funding we will be receiving from the state. They’ve decreased the money we receive so drastically, maintenance alone would be $150,000 a year,” Almendarez said. “We are holding those funds with hopes that we will be able to do something in the near future.”
One decision that will have to be made before then is whether to bid the project once again as a single facility, or break it up into to separate facilities, which Almendarez said was never done when the project was first conceived. Almendarez said he did not know what the estimated costs of the individual elements would be if bid out separately.
At one point, board members considered teaming up with the nearby Bay Area Athletic Club to see the project accomplished. Attorneys for the CISD said at the time that option could pose potential legal difficulties in the use of public and private funds, and advised against it.
When it comes to possibly splitting the facility, Almendarez said he placed the greater need on the indoor athletic facility, since it would benefit literally hundreds of students. Calallen Swim Team members currently practice at Tuloso-Midway High School.
Almendarez said he did not know when the project would be brought back to the board or sent out again for bid.
“We are going to have to make those decisions in the near feature,” Almendarez said.