School board votes down Buc Field press box

KINGSTON — The cost of building a press box at Buccaneer Field was too high for the North Kitsap School Board.

The board voted against building a structure for announcers, coaches and the press to use during Kingston High School home games. The 3-2 nay vote came at the Sept. 26 school board meeting. "To me, it's a no-brainer," Director Tom Anderson said of his vote against the box. "I don't want to spend a dime on it."

If the district was going to spend money on a facility at the field, he would prefer bathrooms to replace the portable toilets at the field.

The district set aside $30,000 for the project. The KHS Athletic Boosters raised an addition $30,000. However, the cheapest bid for the project came in at $72,150. David Dyess, the district's director of facilities, maintenance and capital programs, estimated the project would cost a total of $84,865, after adding electrical materials and an additional 10 percent for contingencies.

KHS Athletic Boosters President Hope Lash said they were promised a press box about two years ago. The last time Lash met with district administration in January, the money from the district was still available for the project, she said. Though she understands the board's decision — including not wanting to spend more than originally estimated — the board went back on a promise, Lash said.

"I understand the project [cost more] than expected," she said. "But there was no conversation with us at all.

"They just yanked it from us."

The district spent between $8,000 and $9,000 on an initial design and a redesign.

The $30,000 raised by the boosters will remain with that association and the KHS Associated Student Body. The $30,000 set aside for the project by the district will remain in its general fund.

The district applied for a permit to build a press box earlier in 2013 and, in the process, discovered that Buc Field was permitted only for practices and not for competitive events. The district applied for a permit for game use, and in August the county approved it.

Lash said the reasons the boosters wanted to build a press box included safety, giving coaches a better view of the field, and keeping equipment used for competitions, such as the score board control, dry. She said having a press box could make the field more appealing to people looking to rent the facility.

Originally a supporter of the press-box project, Board President Dan Weedin said he received emails from two people that he respects, which helped him form a decision to vote against the project. The Kingston residents have a stake in what goes on at KHS, but preferred the district spend the money elsewhere.

"That was very impactful, because of who they are in the KHS community …” Weedin said during the meeting. "When you couple that with the extra [cost], I just don't feel comfortable doing it."

If Weedin voted for the project, he said he wouldn't be able to see himself as a good steward of school district money.

Lash said the board should have discussed the project with the boosters before making a decision, and would have liked Weedin to hear the booster club's opinion.

"I felt like that was a slap in the face," she said. "He should have talked to us."

Director Bill Webb, whose children will attend Kingston schools, supports athletics and KHS hosting its own sporting events. However, he could not support spending that amount of money.

"I am struggling with spending this much money this year," he said. He said he was struggling with the board's original commitment made to the KHS community to build a press box. "It's partly the board's fault for not doing this quicker."

Directors Ken Ames and Scott Henden both supported the project.

Ames had discussions with Kingston residents and heard a lot of positive support, he said. In voting yes, he considered the press box an investment.

"I'm in favor," he said. "Unless you can convince me otherwise."

Henden remained a supporter of the project. He donated his time as an electrician to help the district estimate costs. He said there is a "large degree of support from the community." And, the project will just get more expensive down the road, he said.

The boosters will discuss what to use the money for, Lash said. At this time, she did not know of any alternative ideas for the $30,000.


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