GCSD tabs Meco-Henne for auxiliary gym project

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$3.8 million high school gym, locker room addition should be completed for start of 2015-2016 school year

By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

Barring any unforeseen setbacks, Glenwood Community High School will break ground on its new auxiliary gymnasium and locker room in mid-September.

On Monday, the Glenwood Community School District Board of Directors unanimously approved a construction bid of $3.22 million by Omaha-based contractors Meco-Henne to build the gymnasium addition on the northeast side of the high school that will house a new locker room and allow for an expanded weight room and wrestling room.

 The total cost of the project is expected to be $3.8 million, said Glenwood Superintendent Devin Embray.

HSR Associated, Inc., a La Crosse, Wisc. architectural, engineering and interior design firm, has been retained to design and oversee the addition.

When completed, the auxiliary gym project will include two full-length, 94 feet basketball courts, bleachers on one of the court, an additional 3,000-square feet of locker room space, a 5,100-square foot wrestling practice room and a 4,000 foot weight room.

The district will not need to seek voter approval of the project as no additional costs to any taxpayers nor an increase in property taxes is required for the addition. The district will pay for the new gym with a $3.5 million revenue bond financed with the district’s Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) dollars it receives through the one-cent sales tax. These funds are currently being used for reducing existing bond issue debt as well as technology and building improvements in the district. According to figures provided by the district, the school district estimates annual payments on the gym will begin at just under $300,00 the first year and peak at $375,000 in 2029. With an interest rate of 2.92 percent, the district’s payback will be $943,690.

The additional $293,000 in construction and design costs will be paid for out of the district’s Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL).

The auxiliary gymnasium had been part of the original high school blueprint when construction plans for the $21.5 million high school were finalized in 2007, but the district didn’t have the funds to complete the project at the time.

The district has said their hope is the addition of a full-size gym will benefit student athletes and their families by cutting down on the number of students who have to participate in early morning or late evening practice sessions. Other benefits of having an additional gym, according to Embray, would allow Glenwood to host more girl/boy basketball doubleheaders, state and regional tournaments, eliminate the need to transport students to other schools for practices.

“I think all the coaches are pretty excited,” Embray said of staff response to the project. “I think they were down a little bit in the beginning not knowing how much square footage costs were going to be and the project was ratcheted down as tight as we could be.

“And once the bids came in within an amount we knew we could handle without jeopardizing the other funds and obligations  of the district, we felt we had an obligation to make this the project we wanted, square footage wise.”

Embray expects the project to put Glenwood’s already top-notch facilities among the upper half of the Hawkeye 10 Conference schools.

“I feel we’ve always had really good facilities but the fact we’ll have an auxiliary gym makes us that much more competitive with other schools. We were actually lagging compared to Hawkeye 10 schools with auxiliary gyms so having this a gym this size is going to put us above the average in the conference.”

The construction phase is expected to last eight months. During construction, Embray said, buses and school pick up in the rear of the building will be temporarily re-routed to the auditorium or west side of the building.

Embray said the plan is to have the addition completed in time for the start of the 2015-2016 school year.