Board boots soccer field bids

The cost to build new soccer facilities and improve drainage at Seymour High School is more than school officials want to pay.

School board members agreed Tuesday to reject all four bids that came in for the project. Those bids ranged from $1.64 million to $2 million, not including additional work such as installation of sports lighting and artificial turf.

Superintendent Rob Hooker said the school district has about $1.8 million available for the project from a $2 million bond the district issued last year.

The project will be rebid after changes are made to the design plans to scale back the scope of the work, Hooker added.

Any modifications to the plans will be reviewed at a special meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at Margaret R. Brown Elementary School.

Rebidding will delay the project by two months but should still give contractors enough time to finish by July 1, 2016, for that fall’s soccer season.

Jamie Lake, project manager with Kovert Hawkins, said general site costs for construction projects are up along with labor and material costs.

“This is a heavy site work project, with a lot of piping, catch basins and storm structures,” Lake said. “We are looking at all of those to see if there are any that could possibly be reduced in size or eliminated without impacting the stormwater issues we are trying to correct.”

But there’s not a lot that can be eliminated without giving up performance, Lake added.

“We can do less, but it’s not going to help your stormwater issues,” he said.

He also said bids may have been high this time around because there is plenty of construction work to go around.

“People are busy, so they aren’t hungry for work,” Lake said.

Those submitting bids this month were King’s Trucking and Excavation in Seymour ($1.63 million), MAC Construction and Excavating in New Albany ($2 million), Poole Group in Dillsboro ($1.7 million) and Mattcon General Contractors in Indianapolis ($1.7 million).

“There’s not a lot of general construction in this project. It’s almost entirely earthwork,” Lake said. “The bidders you are seeing are large earth contractors.”

The companies also provided alternate bids for construction of parking areas, site lighting and fencing, and irrigation.

Hooker said some items will be removed from the project or scaled back to reduce the cost.

“Our goal should be the base bid, turf and lighting,” he said.

The artificial turf field is expected to cost more than $300,000.

Lake said the base bid included construction of a two-story press box with restrooms and concession stand, but it’s likely that will be changed.

“Our building scope got bigger than anticipated, so we’re looking at going back to a manufactured press box that would allow us to do restrooms and concessions in the future,” he said.

The bulk of the project focuses on the site work, and Lake said more dirt will have to be brought in than they anticipated to build proper slopes to drain stormwater away from the fields.

“Everything is so flat out there,” Lake said.

When completed, the work will transform the area to the west of the school between the softball and baseball diamonds into a soccer complex, complete with a turf-covered game field and a grass practice field.

Seymour would be one of a few Indiana high schools with an artificial playing surface dedicated to soccer. The fields also will be used by the high school’s marching band for practice and for physical education classes.

Currently, the school uses C.B. Hess Memorial Soccer Field at Freeman Field Sports Complex for boys and girls games. That field has drainage issues and presents a liability for the school because students must travel to play there, officials said.

Some school board members voiced their concern a planned detention area to help with stormwater might be too deep.

Trustee John Kelley suggested a fence around the detention area be included for safety to keep kids from playing in it.

Lake said the reason the detention area was oversized in the design phase was due to the amount of rain the area gets.

“The rainfalls have been getting extreme, and the extreme rains are becoming more prevalent,” he said.

Trustee Stu Silver wasn’t happy with the outcome of the bids.

“We’ve got to have a better deal on this,” Silver said. “We’ve got to get these prices down if we want to do this job.”

Kelley said the contractors are only bidding on the project specs they are given by the architects, and he challenged Lake to find more options for value engineering.

“I think we’ve designed a Cadillac instead of maybe going with a little bit less,” Kelley said.