Construction has started on the new press box at Conway High School, a project with a large price tag and an interesting solution.
Originally, the project was expected to cost between $50,000 and $75,000.
Before the renovation, the district evaluated the current press box. The district knew going into the evaluation that the 40-year-old press box had shaky floors, leaky roofs and water spots, but the evaluation revealed an even more dangerous situation.
“We do not have a safe press box,” Assistant Superintendent Carroll Bishop said at the Board of Education meeting Tuesday. “We got up there and we found some very unsafe situations up in that press box.”
At that point, the renovation became a replacement project with a new price tag.
The guaranteed maximum price set by Nabholz Construction and approved by the Conway Public School Board of Education Tuesday night is $808,058. This includes a $25,000 contingency on the press box, demolition of the current press box and all of Nabholz’s fees.
With a price tag more than 10 times what they were expecting, the district had to get creative in their funding to make sure to respect the taxpayers’ money, Bishop said.
Conway Public Schools have cell towers on school properties. The towers are built by cell phone companies, and the companies lease the land from the schools.
Several years ago, a man came to the district representing a company that offered to pay the district an upfront amount to lease the leases as a middle man, and then the company receives the actual lease money each month. At the time, Superintendent Greg Murry said the district was not interested but may be in the future.
When the issue of the press box renovation came up, Murry suggested Bishop give the man a call. After negotiation, the company agreed to pay the district $500,000 to lease three leases “for many, many, many years,” Bishop said.
“Basically, they would own these three leases,” Bishop said. “There might be a little bit of money later on, but basically they would own them.”
Meanwhile, the district has been negotiating a cell tower on the property at Woodrow Cummins Elementary. Another man is interested in leasing that lease. The tower itself has not been approved by the city council, so nothing is set in stone at this point.
“I don’t want to give you a false number, but I can tell you it would probably be over $150,000,” Bishop told the board.
These cell tower deals would cover the majority of the press box renovation.
The rest of the cost would be covered by district’s building fund budget.
(Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1212. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)