District looks at next phases of BMHS plans

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BELOIT - The School District of Beloit infrastructure committee discussed the possibilities involved with moving forward with planning for phases 2 through 4 of the Beloit Memorial High School (BMHS) campus masterplan in light of phase 1 coming to completion soon.

"We could do one project, something to keep the district moving forward," said School District of Beloit Director of Facility Services Sean Winters at the committee meeting held Monday evening.

Winters said goals could include stadium lights, remodeled concession stands or any small project to keep the momentum going on the master plan.

"The nice thing about the campus plan is it's fluid. We are not pigeon-holing ourselves to one project," Winters said.

Committee members discussed some of the possibilities worth consideration. The committee agreed there is a need to enhance athletic fields and complexes as the district moves forward with its plans. Amenities such as energy efficient stadium lighting, improved signage and practice fields would be a benefit to the district as well as more air conditioning in some of the school buildings, members said.

"Engaging staff more will be a big key to this," said committee member Frank McKearn.

Winters said his next step will be talking with Superintendent Stanley Munro about gathering staff input and bringing back staff ideas for further discussion at the committee.

At the meeting, Joe Stadelman, president of Angus Young and infrastructure committee member, suggested having conversations with different departments to determine their needs such as improved technology in the buildings. He said the district could look at ways to recruit more students to the district by making improvements.

Prior to the meeting, Stadelman explained the district is finishing up phase 1 of a master plan to redevelop the campus from Maple Avenue to Liberty Avenue. The goal of the plan - which was created by a team including the City of Beloit, the district and Beloit 200 - had a goal of making the area more pedestrian friendly. Although the overall concept was embraced by the district, the board only approved spending for phase 1.

The estimated cost of the master plan, as originally proposed for all entities, was $23 million. The original estimated timeline was 2017-2030.

The first phase of the master plan included construction of the new Kolak Education Center at Maple Avenue and Fourth Street. The project, which will be wrapping up in July, came in at a pricetag of $5.5 million.

Stadelman said Phase 1 also included the closure of Fourth Street, from Middle to North Street. He said a bus and fire truck turnaround at the BMHS pool parking lot has gone out to bid and is pending board approval. Although a canopy at the high school entrance was proposed, staff has tabled moving forward with it. A parking lot, planned to be added on Fourth Street west of new tennis courts on the south side of the campus, has gone out to bid and is pending board approval. The welcome center plus other improvements in phase 1 will have a total cost of $6.3 million, Stadelman said.

As phase 1 comes to a close, Stadelman explained the committee has been looking into if phases 2, 3 and 4 need revising.

Phase 2, as originally proposed and reported earlier, would include turning Fourth Street into a pedestrian mall from Middle Street to Lenigan Creek. It would feature a new WIAA sanctioned soccer stadium which will allow the district to host post-season tournaments in Beloit. Due to WIAA standards, the tournaments can't be held on a football field. Plans would also include a WIAA sanctioned softball field so the girls softball program would stay on campus and players wouldn't have to use the fields at a city park or the YMCA's sports center. New parking would also be added as well as new streets to accommodate the closing of Fourth Street.

The last part of Phase 2 would be redevelopment of Lenigan Creek to include a park.

Phase 3 would include a WIAA sanctioned tournament baseball field, a pedestrian walkway from Sixth Street to the soccer stadium, improvements to the riverwalk in front of the high school, and the installation of synthetic turf on the football field to allow practice and more activities to occur. Phase 3 would also include the extension of Fifth Street from Maple Avenue to the soccer stadium.

Phase 4 is reorganization of the main parking in front of the high school to create an outdoor boulevard entrance from Sixth Street and improve the drop-off and pick-off traffic patterns for students. It also includes reorganization of Fifth Street from Liberty Avenue to Middle Street. It would result in a net gain of 50 stalls which are more dispersed. It would include the sale of school district owned land for private development, possibly residential, south of tennis courts on the corner of Liberty and Fourth streets.

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