Originally published April 8, 2019 in the Rock Island Dispatch Argus.
By Nicole Lauer
Moline-Coal Valley School Board members on Monday approved a plan for a $14 million multi-purpose physical education facility at Moline High School.
Board members voted unanimously to accept the plan offered by administrators with an expected eight-year bond repayment period. Chief financial officer Dave McDermott said key components of the new facility would be a six-lane track, four multi-use courts, updated locker rooms and a new weight room. The $14 million price tag includes the cost of new weight room equipment.
The space is intended to be open-concept and multi-use and allow for greatly improved physical education opportunities for students who are now running in hallways or crammed into overcrowded weight room space. Administrators said the top goal was to create safer physical education space for high school students.
Administrators will now select an architect and construction manager for the project. The ultimate goal, McDermott said, is to have kids using the completed facility by December 2020.
Board members agreed on March 11 to make the multi-purpose physical education facility the district’s next facility priority. At that time, board members also accepted the recommendation to form a committee of representatives from the school board and the community to seek a cooperative partnership to build a new swimming pool. Monday’s action by the board solely focused on the multi-purpose facility.
Many stakeholders came out to share their opinions on the need for a new facility at the Feb. 25 forum. At the forum, administrators estimated an $8.9 million expense to build a 47,600-square-feet addition and remodel 2,000-square-feet of the existing west locker room. A pool was estimated at that time at about $9.5 million.
Administrators said Monday part of the increased project cost was because of the change form a four-lane track to a six-lane track.
Board member Susan Tucker asked administrators why it was necessary to have a six-lane track for the project. Administrators said the expanded track added square-footage to the project that could be used for other purposes, such as doing yoga on mats on the track, and would allow the district to host competitions.
Board member Sangeetha Rayapati said it was a shame the projected cost was going up, but she was happy equipment was included in the project budget. She said she followed a lot of Moline sports Twitter accounts and saw the many hopes and dreams of stakeholders. She said she urged the district to proceed with caution in terms of purchasing equipment to get what truly was appropriate for a high school.
“What we’re telling you, is we believe this facility, at $14 million, will be a facility that the Moline School District will be proud of and the community will be proud of,” McDermott said. “We might not get everything, but a lot of the bases.”
Board member Erin Waldron-Smith said she was concerned the previously stated goal of providing everyday health opportunities for students who are not athletes might be getting pushed to the side. McDermott said the project would provide multi-purpose recreational space for a wide variety of activities, but if the board wanted dedicated rooms for specific activities it would come at a cost of more square footage.
Both Waldron-Smith and Tucker said they hoped the new facility allowed for improved curriculum and programming for students. McDermott said that was the goal and pointed to several district projects, such as Hamilton and the middle schools, that he said ultimately allowed students and staff to enjoy better educational opportunities.