LHS Gym Project Earns Unanimous Approval
By Mike Perleberg
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – Lawrenceburg Community Schools took a significant step towards demolishing the old Lawrenceburg High School gym and building a new one.
Last night, the Lawrenceburg Board of School Trustees unanimously voted in favor of four measures that will allow the $13.9 million project to happen, with deconstruction of the current 49-year-old gymnasium beginning as soon as next spring.
In recent years, issues with the foundation and superstructure of the gym became apparent, caused by the rising and lowering of the ground water table beneath the gym. Now, walls are cracking, beams are bowing, and safety is a concern.
“It’s not uncommon that prior to any activities that we have in the gymnasium, that we will have our custodial crew check the roof and walls for any loose concrete,” Superintendent Karl Galey explained.
The board voted to accept a $4 million grant from the City of Lawrenceburg and dedicate it to the project. The school district is dedicating $945,300 in funding from its general and capital projects funds. The City of Greendale and Lawrenceburg Conservancy District are also considering some financial assistance. School corporation and Greendale leaders will meet during a city council meeting on Wednesday, December 11.
Regardless of the contributions, the project will raise taxes for property owners in the school district. The board approved by a 7-0 vote an $8.99 million, 10-year tailored bond repayment plan.
According to Colette J. Irwin-Knott with accounting consulting firm Umbaugh & Associates, the tax increase would take effect incrementally starting in 2015. In 2016, the rate would rise by $0.1520 per $100 of assessed property value, or an additional $49.78 per year for a home valued at $100,000.
As old bonds are paid off starting in 2022, the new bond rate would increase to $0.2134 per $100 of valuation, or $69.89 for a $100,000 home. The district’s overall debt service tax rate would remain the same as it had from 2016 through 2021.
By state law, property taxes are capped at one percent of assessed value for residential property, two percent for rental and farm property, and three percent for business and industrial property. Property owners already at their cap will not see any increase in taxes, according to another accountant with Umbaugh & Associates.
The next step in the project is to publish a notice in local newspapers. Then there will be a 30 day window for opponents to petition for a remonstrance. If 100 signatures are gathered, it wouldn’t stop the project, but would likely delay it. A petition race between project supporters and opponents would then take place, Galey said.
Barring such a delay, the bids for the project could go out in February and be awarded in March. With the old gym demolishment to begin at about Spring break, the gym could be ready by the start of the school year in August 2015.
More details about the new gym was given by Mark Beebe of architectural company Lancer+Beebe. There will be an elevated running track and retractable seating on the second floor. An over-the-court scoreboard will be the first such scoreboard among Dearborn County schools. The exterior of the building will feature a curved roof and a façade that mimics the current school building, with “a modern flare,” Bebee said.
The new gym will have a larger capacity: about 2,700 people. Galey said that likely wouldn’t be large enough for the high school to host future boys basketball tournament sectionals, but it could host sectionals for volleyball.
A new artificial turf multi-purpose athletic field is also part of the project. It will be at the current football field site and host its first games in the fall of 2015. The new gym will feature football locker rooms on the ground floor.
Some have questioned why the school board voted in August to have the replacement gymnasium built on the same site as the old gym. Tom Bruns with construction manager Batesville-based Bruns-Gutzwiller Construction said that studies showed the water table would be an issue no matter where on campus the gym is built.
“No matter where we put this on campus, we’re still going to have to consider the cost of deep water cast piles, where if you look around Lawrenceburg – either the event center or the new jail – they have to deal with it,” Bruns explained.