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Bloomington ISD talks dome-covered gym and shelter space at special meeting

By KBell
March 12, 2012 at 11:01 p.m.
Updated March 11, 2012 at 10:12 p.m.


TIMELINE

Bloomington ISD applied for the Texas Safe Shelter Initiative last year and was put on hold when FEMA put a moratorium on funding after the Texas wildfires.The district received official word in February that their grant was approved, which put in motion a timeline of 18 months for the district to make so-called "substantial completion" on the project.The Victoria County Commissioner's Court approved the funding and will act as a flow-through agency since Bloomington is an unincorporated city.The shelter space will be larger than Woodsboro's, as its size is based on county population.SOURCE: Delores Warnell, BISD superintendent

The Bloomington school district board at a special meeting Monday sorted through plans for a dome-covered gym that would also serve as a shelter space in case of natural disasters.

The $2.4 million project would be funded by the district's fund balance and money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

FEMA would contribute $1.8 million to the shelter space, while the district would contribute $600,000.

Woodsboro school district has a similar facility, which members of the BISD board have toured and plan to tour again.

The Texas Safe Shelter Initiative facility is part of the district's larger master plan that includes an athletic complex consisting of a new outdoor track, football stadium, baseball and softball fields.

The complex would be built where the current football stadium lies. The current elementary gym would be demolished after the completion of the new gym, which would serve as a secondary gym for high school sports.

The baseball and softball fields are not planned for the near future, so the Austin-based architect firm, Fromberg Associates, ran over preliminary plans for the gym, track and football stadium.

"Our big goal is this is open to the public. We want the public to use this track facility at their will," said John Cranfill, BISD board president.

With $1.2 million already appropriated to the track and stadium project, the board identified its priorities so the architects could return with more concrete options and a budget.

Preliminary plans call for a plaza at the east end of the stadium that would serve both the gym and football field with ticket sales and a concession stand. The home side, which is now on the south side of the field, would be switched with the visitor's side at the north.

Cranfill said the district could work through the project in phases - for example, holding off on building a new press box - especially if the district can crunch the numbers to afford a turf field.

"We understand the dynamics of what's going on with drought, and we understand we could recover costs with a turf field," Cranfill said. "You all need to tell us, can we consider turf? Right now we're stuck on $1.2 million."

Turf could add about $550,000 to the district's cost, architect Antonio Naylor said. Fromberg Associates will return to the board with details of their options in about three or four weeks.

Construction on the track and field could begin at the end of next year's football season and be completed within six months.

The board also went down its wish-list for the gym, which would be subject to FEMA requirements like adequate spacing and self-sustainable energy sources.

The architect firm will return with plans that specify FEMA requirements.

The 20,000-square-foot gym facility could provide seating for about 800 people - perhaps for hosting tournaments - with restrooms, a kitchen area and dressing rooms for all sports.

For now, the board is likely not considering adding parking outside of handicapped spaces, as parking was put in during the recent bond election.

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