Cathy Dyson writes about King George County.
3 county projects total $13 million
King George County is about to embark on three building projects worth more than $13 million.
New construction will bring a football stadium to King George High School, renovate Potomac Elementary School and more than double the size of L.E. Smoot Memorial Library.
The Board of Supervisors has $3 million left from the construction of King George High School for the stadium. The county has to award the building contract by Sept. 20 because bids were opened July 22.
The low bid of $3.1 million covers a 2,000-seat stadium, natural grass on the field and a support building. If the county goes with synthetic turf instead of grass and adds other features, the cost rises to $3.7 million.
It will take 12 months to build the stadium, so the Foxes football team “probably won’t be playing there next year,” at least at the start of the season, said County Administrator Travis Quesenberry.
On Sept. 6, county staff will present to the supervisors various options and costs for the stadium and for Hunter Field, where the Foxes currently play.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Joe Grzeika said he favors natural grass because the School Board wants to limit the field to school teams only. He doesn’t agree with the limited use, but said if that will be the case, spending almost half a million dollars on synthetic turf isn’t a good use of money.
School Board Member Mike Rose said this week it’s up to the supervisors, not the School Board members, to decide what type of surface the field gets.
“Since the Board of Supervisors controls the funding for this, the final decision is out of School Board hands,” Rose emailed yesterday. Wed., Aug. 31
Rose had emailed Grzeika on Aug. 19 about Grzeika’s comments regarding the stadium. Rose said he checked with other School Board members, who agree with his perspective. That is: If the stadium gets a sod field, usage will be limited to school teams only. If the stadium is done in natural turf, Parks and Recreation and youth teams can use the field.
Rose had a concern similar to Supervisor Dale Sisson Jr, who worried on Aug. 16 about the new stadium being maintained properly.
“The school system has had a poor record of maintaining suitable playing fields for our sports teams,” Rose said. He referred to deteriorating conditions at Hunter Field, the current stadium, that led to officials deeming it unfit for play last spring.
Rose said that the school system would have to hire someone who specializes in sod fields or pay a contractor to maintain it, if the new stadium gets natural grass.
“We don’t want all of the funds put into a new stadium and let the playing field degrade into substandard conditions,” Rose said.
The Board of Supervisors and School Board are moving forward with plans to borrow $5 million on a no-interest loan from Qualified School Construction Bonds.
Supervisors are scheduled to make a formal request for the loan Sept. 20, after a public hearing on the topic.
Then the Virginia Public School Authority will process the application, and should award the money in the first quarter of 2012, said Kyle Laux, vice president with the county’s financial consultant, Davenport and Co.
King George has three years from closing to spend the money.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime sort of opportunity,” Laux said.
The money will be layered among current debt so no new taxes will be needed to pay back the loan, Laux said.
Again with this project, officials haven’t decided what the money will be spent on—or whether the county will add more to the renovation. Supervisors budgeted $200,000 in this year’s capital projects budget for school improvements.
A July 2010 consultant’s report said the Dahlgren school, built in sections between 1959 and 1989, needs new heating, plumbing and electrical systems. Fixing those and providing the same amenities as the county’s other two elementary schools would cost $9.6 million.
MORE SPACE FOR BOOKS
Supervisors probably will have to appropriate another $500,000 toward the library project, Quesenberry said recently.
The county received 13 bids, and the apparent low bid was $4.9 million. That’s about $100,000 more than the county put aside for the expansion, but Quesenberry said other project costs probably would total another $500,000 or $600,000.
A 17,796-square-foot addition will be linked to the current library, which is shaped like a cross and consists of almost 11,000 square feet.
The expansion will provide more meeting places for community groups and more space for collections, as well as computer rooms, study areas and a cyber lounge.