GCCC trustees approve construction project





After a lengthy discussion at the Garden City Community College Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night, trustees authorized the administration to make enhancements to the old track that sits adjacent to the Tangeman Sports Complex on Spruce Street.

Trustees approved a base bid of $2,260,340 from Hellas Sports Construction of Austin, Texas, for making enhancements to the area, including the replacement of the existing track with an eight-lane collegiate track and the addition of a field for both football and women's soccer. In addition, the area will provide a venue for student intramural activities and will be open for the community to walk and exercise during posted hours.

With the improvements on this land, the college plans to re-establish the Broncbuster collegiate track program that was discontinued in 2007. A track and field program gives GCCC the opportunity to accept an additional 60 students.

Discussion included both opposition and agreement, preceding the approval of the bid.

Opposition came from community members concerned that funding would come from tax payers.

Herbert Swender, GCCC president, answered this concern by saying no tax money will be used for funding.

"This president isn't advocating any kind of tax appropriations for this," he said, adding that the funds will come from the general fund and by increasing student tuition and fees, as well as from philanthropic donations.

GCCC football coach Matt Miller made several persuasive points to the board, in favor of a new football field.

"We've got a program to the point where we're on the cusp of having major success, but facility-wise we are at the bottom rung of our own conference. I truly believe this is the only thing that can hold us back," Miller said.

GCCC cross country coach Dan Delgado said that while football is universally seen as a flagship program in collegiate athletics, the new field will attract more students by enhancing the overall college campus experience.

"At GCCC it won't be football only, but will be used for all athletic, intramurals, clubs and organizations with accommodating scheduled public use, making its use universal, definitively for all," Delgado said. "GCCC is committed to providing current and future students with the best two-year collegiate experience possible. An ideal method is to imitate, as much as possible, all experiences available to student athletes who attend a four-year college. And on campus, a track, soccer and football facility places GCCC well within the parameters of this philosophy."

Longtime GCCC supporters Leonard Hitz and Jim Howard expressed their concerns that the project is premature and the college should renegotiate its agreement with USD 457. Howard later recanted his concerns and told the board that after listening to Delgado and Miller, he understands the need for the new athletic field.

The board discussed the bid at length, before approving the bid. Trustee Jeff Crist echoed Hitz' sentiment that the project, which Swender wants to see completed by Aug. 16, as premature.

"Our teams recruited for next year. The field's bad but I don't see that we need to push this as hard as we're pushing it," Crist said.

Trustee Steve Sterling said that the discussion about having a football field on campus has been under way for decades.

Swender also responded to Crist's concerns.

"Is there a good time? I can almost guess that the interest rate isn't going to be better than it is now," Swender said. "It's about facilities, recruitment and it's also retention of students. The college has to deliver on the facilities."

Other board members were eager to move forward with the proposal, as Hellas Sports Construction also submitted the best finance package, with an interest rate of 2.69 percent. The board took action on a motion by Sterling to accept the land improvement project as submitted. Trustee Dr. Bill Clifford seconded the motion. The motion passed 4-2 with trustees Crist and Ron Schwartz opposing.

Bids were received from three vendors: Hellas Sports Construction, Austin, Texas; McAnany Construction, Shawnee; and Mid-America Golf, Lee's Summit, Mo. McAnany's base bid was $2,611,500 and Mid-America Golf's base bid was $2,609,440.

In other business, the board approved the purchase of an ADA-compliant modular stage;¬·approved the hiring of Graciela Ortiz, custodian and Derek Ramos, interim director of physical plant; and Joyce Bernbeck, fine arts secretary; and employee separations were approved, including the departures of Rori Valerio, nursing and allied health secretary; and Larry Johnston, director of physical plant.

During executive session, trustees, college attorney Randy Grissell, GCCC Executive Vice President Dee Wigner and Swender discussed client-attorney information. No action was taken.

The next monthly meeting of the trustees is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 21 in the Endowment Room of the Beth Tedrow Student Center.

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