Athletic facility clears funding hurdle

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Despite not having a final plan or cost in place, the Andalusia Board of Education approved a resolution to fund a more than $2.5 million physical education facility at Andalusia High School last night.

The board tabled the item at last Monday night’s board meeting until it could secure a funding commitment from the Andalusia Bulldog Football Foundation.

“We’re excited,” Board chairman Dr. Bill King said. “Anytime we can add to the facilities in the Andalusia City School system, it’s a big day. I know the city is on board with us, and so is the foundation. I hope our students are excited. I know our athletes certainly are.”

Members of the foundation submitted the signed agreement and gave the board a check for $8,000 in closing costs for the project.

In addition to paying the $8,000, the foundation committed to paying back the interest on any bridge loans until the school system can pay off the long-term debt owed for the Andalusia Elementary School in 2014. The actual amount the foundation will commit is contingent on the final project plan approved by the board.

The project includes a 30,132 square foot physical education facility featuring a 50-yard practice field, and a 6,349 square foot facility that will include a classroom, a media and film room, coaches’ offices, showers and toilets, a laundry facility, physical therapy and training room and a hall of honors.

The board is expected to narrow down the plans enough to make a presentation to the building commission in the next 14 days.

Architect Joe Donofro was on hand Monday night to address any concerns from the school board or the football foundation.

Among the changes included adding a unisex toilet with an exterior entrance on the new varsity locker room facility.

Other suggestions and discussions included closing off a hallway in the varsity locker room to alleviate unused space and maximize the space.

“I don’t want there to be just dead space,” King said.

A major concern among board members and the foundation was an adequate number of lockers.

Current plans call for 66 lockers; however, the board and the foundation did not feel that was enough, since current football team has about 63 players.

“There are 63 on the team currently,” board member David McCalman said. “That doesn’t give much growing room. We win a couple of region championships and go to the playoffs and hopefully that number will grow.”

“We want to have 85 or more kids going out,” Foundation board member Ben Bowden said.

Board member Joe Nix cautioned fellow board members and foundation members.

“This is a physical education facility,” he said. “And we keep going back to football. We need to be very careful.”

Donofro said he hopes to submit the final plans in January and let bids in February.