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Pine Tree ISD again opens stadium bids

By by Peggy Jones pljones@news-journal.com
Aug. 14, 2012 at 10 p.m.


Pine Tree ISD officials expect to open bids next week on a scaled-down athletic stadium after bids on the project came in $2 million over budget earlier this year.

Gallagher Construction Service issued new bid packages to subcontractors July 23. District spokeswoman Vicki Echols said the school will hold a pre-bid meeting today at Pine Tree High School and open bids Tuesday.

Superintendent T.J. Farler said the board will open bids for four building projects, including the proposed athletic stadium, game day field house, high school soccer, softball, tennis field house as well as renovation of an area that includes career tech, culinary arts, and visual media and renovation of the high school theater.

The total bond package passed by voters in 2011 was $29.9 million. Some of the projects have already been completed, officials said.

The proposed athletic stadium, to be built on district property near Lear Park off Loop 281, was originally scheduled to open in October.

"Most of the criticism we've encountered is that we're not moving fast enough," Farler said. "The board has been strategic and thoughtful all along the way because building a stadium is so important."

Farler defended the district architect and general contractor who came under fire when bids in April were $2 million over budget.

Critics have pointed to the original stadium plans as being "over-designed" with plumbing and heating ventilation and air conditioning specifications hospital grade.

"The architects did what the community asked for," Farler said.

Since then, the stadium has been re-designed.

Original plans for a four-lane boulevard leading into the stadium from Loop 281 have been nixed. The new plan calls for a three-lane entry road.

The school board reduced the amount of concrete by making the stadium street-level, which also eliminated accessibility compliance requirements for ramps.

Officials cut some brick from the front of the complex; reduced some concession stand areas; and reduced the size of the game day field house by 2,000 square feet so that the it is now planned to be more than 6,500 square feet.

"We're finding we like it better," Farler said in July.

The superintendent also defended trustees' decision to build the stadium at its current location - near, but not adjacent to Lear Park. She said it would not fit on that property originally suggested for the stadium, which had been recommended by former members of the bond development committee.

Farler said city code, which requires one parking space for every three persons in the stadium, is responsible for the large concrete expense.

City Planner Michael Shirley confirmed, early on, that Pine Tree officials asked for a variance from the requirement on grounds it would be too expensive.

"We told them we don't consider financial hardship in a request for a variance," Shirley said. "That's not a true hardship. A hardship is based on physical features, unique characteristics of property - something that would physically prevent meeting the code."

Shirley said Longview's Lobo Stadium parking met the same code requirements, "and they have still have trouble accommodating all the cars, every game."

He said the code requirements have been in place at least 10 years.

Shirley said the district never asked for the variance in writing after being told financial hardships were not considered.

"We'll do whatever we have to do to accommodate parking," Farler said. "We'll be parking on intermediate and middle schools (and running) a shuttle at Lear Park to meet city requirements. We will come in at budget."

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