The Garden City USD 457 Board of Education on Monday authorized the start of construction on a sports dome that will be located on the property of Kenneth Henderson Middle School and managed and maintained by the Garden City Family YMCA.

The multi-use facility is anticipated to improve court availability at the YMCA and KHMS by adding a third space to be shared between the two. The facility will include courts for basketball and volleyball, an indoor soccer area and a walking track. The structure itself will be approximately 118 feet wide and 223 feet long with an inflatable roof that reaches 36 feet at its peak.

The facility will also provide space for gymnastics, cheerleading and workouts, as well as restrooms and locker rooms.

Stewart Nelson, of the local GMCN architectural firm, said he reviewed plans for the project. He told board members during the meeting that he found it “acceptable” to proceed with approval of an agreement.

YMCA CEO Chad Knight said approval for the project by the City of Garden City took 26 weeks. He added that construction of the dome will take 16 weeks to complete.

USD 457 Superintendent Steve Karlin noted that an optional component of the project would include construction of a bus lane that runs from Mary Street and along the parking lot behind Kenneth Henderson, where it leads into Henderson Drive directly across from the entrance to Sloan Street.

Karlin said the parking lot adjacent to the would-be lane is currently paid for by the city. He added that the city has offered to pay for the bus lane along the perimeter of the parking lot if the board agrees to adopt the project at this time. If not, Karlin said, the city will not finance the lane in the future and a gravel access route to the edge of the dome will have to be constructed as an alternative.

The issue will be taken up at the board meeting on Dec. 4, and school board member Jean Clifford said she urges residents to bring any concerns they have to the board at that time, or to Karlin.

If the bus lane is built, Karlin said, buses would pick up and drop off students of KHMS on the backside of the building from Mary Street, and students would use a sidewalk to reach an alternative entrance.

Knight said the dome will allow for virtually constant court availability at the YMCA and at KHMS.

When asked about the dome’s longevity, Knight noted that a similar dome in Roeland Park has been there for 38 years and has had only two repairs, while a dome in Dighton withstood a tornado. He added that the dome is warrantied for 30 years.

The YMCA has been fundraising for the project for more than a year to the tune of $1.1 million.

Knight said in March that the YMCA would command use of the facility before 8 a.m. Monday through Friday during the school year, and KHMS would utilize the space on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. for curricular needs.

The addition of the dome will allow for two basketball and volleyball courts available to KHMS during the school’s sporting seasons. During basketball season, varsity games will be held in the school’s current gym, and two courts in the dome will be used for B- and C-team competitions.

The YMCA will use the dome full-time during the summer and during evening hours after 5 p.m. and on weekends.

Karlin noted that the school district's use of the dome will take priority when the district and YMCA are hosting sporting events simultaneously.

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