New design approved for proposed tennis center in Edmond

Published: Tue, September 11, 2018 5:00 AM

A new design has been approved in an ongoing effort to build a multimillion-dollar tennis center in Edmond.

Last week, the Edmond Board of Education approved a revamped design for the center, which will be near W 15th Street and Kelly Avenue. The Edmond school district is partnering with the city of Edmond to provide many more courts than what is now offered at the city's aged Kickingbird Center at Bryant and Danforth. Kickingbird has 11 outside courts and three inside.

The original design for the new center was shelved by the board in July after bids came in much higher than the estimated $14 million project price tag. The lowest bid was from HGL Construction at $16.9 million.

Officials attributed the higher estimate to increased costs for steel, as well as inflated prices for other construction supplies. Steel went up because of tariff costs, and the materials were higher because of demand in rebuilding a lot of the Texas Gulf Coast damaged by Hurricane Harvey during summer 2017.

Since July, the Edmond school district, working with city officials, has revamped the design with fewer indoor and outdoor courts.

Original plans called for 25 outdoor courts and 10 indoor courts. That has now been reduced to 18 outdoor courts and six inside. Both the city and schools are committed to funding $7 million each. The city already has invested $2.5 million for the land purchase.

Superintendent Bret Towne told the five-member board recently that the biggest cost-saver would be the reduction of indoor courts. The new design, he explained, could be done without as much steel as in the original plans. Another cost-saving measure involves site soil removal. Instead of loading the soil on trucks and taking it away, it will be spread out on the site.

"That alone will save hundreds of thousands of dollars," he said.

Although the project will be bid out now with 18 outdoor courts, Edmond Schools will seek an alternate bid for construction of an extra six, or 24 courts. This came after board member Jamie Underwood asked if the new center would meet the needs for all Edmond schools. Towne also didn't rule out seeing if there might be an extra $1 million or $2 million in leftover bond monies to help fund the extra six outdoor courts, if necessary.

Towne also is cutting back parking places to just over 100 and is scaling back some of the meeting area inside.

For now, the schools' successful tennis teams continue to practice at Kickingbird, which will remain in operation until a new center is built. Towne noted the district worked with tennis coaches to make sure the planned facility met their needs. The superintendent had been told most of the teams preferred to practice outdoors.

"They said they would just as soon be outside unless there's hail or it's sleeting," he said.  The new design will go out to bid soon, but Towne said the earliest it could be approved would be during a special meeting in October and perhaps not until the regular board meeting in November.

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