Costs to help a Hanford High School booster club build a new athletic facility have more than doubled and the Richland School Board is reluctant to provide the extra money.
The district previously agreed to pay $75,000 for needed utility improvements to help the boosters build a new concession and locker facility for the school's softball program. However, fire protection requirements from the city have bumped that cost to $200,000.
"We were ready to break ground in June before this happened," said Mike DePeel, president of the Hanford Falcon Booster Club.
The district was going to pay for sidewalks to Hanford High's softball fields, water, sewer and electrical connections, more electrical capacity and the cost of city permits, according to district documents.
The money for that work was to come from the district's capital projects fund.
The booster club, in turn, would pay about $200,000 to build a 3,400-square-foot building to house event announcers, concessions, bathrooms, locker rooms and storage at the school's softball fields.
The boosters also want to use the utility connections for a similar building to be built in the future at nearby soccer fields.
The new building would provide better facilities for students and visitors and allow the school to play host to more tournaments.
But the boosters said they were surprised when city officials called for more fire protection work at the site, including the need for a new access road and installing a fire hydrant.
This week, the school board asked district administrators to work with the boosters on the plans. The proposal may have to be scaled back or adapted to better fit with the district's original financial pledge, some board members said.
"We have to look at things in the scope of the whole district and the scope of future projects," said board member Heather Cleary.
The district has about $3 million left from a 2003 bond, Superintendent Rick Schulte told the board, and part of that money was initially intended for projects at Hanford High that weren't completed.
However, board members weren't initially interested in using remaining bond money for the project. The board has had informal discussions about other uses for that money, such as upgrading Hanford High's heating and cooling system.
The district has helped with athletic projects such as Fran Rish Stadium, which is used by Hanford and Richland high schools.
However, board Chairwoman Phyllis Strickler said the Richland High School boosters have seldom, if ever, received district money for projects intended solely for Richland High students.
"I hesitate to have the district be a major funder of booster projects," she said.
Boosters and district administrators could bring the issue back to the board as soon as the board's Oct. 28 meeting.
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