Written by Don Ratzlaff Tuesday, 17 April 2007 12:18
| The floor plan of Hillsboro Middle School and Hillsboro HIgh School show where the building additions would take place if the district’s bond election is passed. The pink area is the renovated science room and the blue areas indicate the location of the new locker rooms, rest rooms and weight-training area.
The space now designated for those classes was used as the school kitchen and lunch room until the 1970s. The space, which is divided into two areas by an interior wall, was not renovated for its current use.
“It’s still the same as it was,” Mohn said. “It’s a real problem to have that space separated as far as supervision. We’d like to take that wall out and create one big science lab.”
Another problem has been chemical storage.
“Right now we store all of our chemicals in the same room where the electrical boxes are,” Mohn said. “The fire marshal has never said anything about it, but I’ve always been uncomfortable with that.
“We’d like to make this a state-of-the art facility for science. It isn’t now.”
Traffic flow and parking
|This site plan shows the location of the proposed addition plus the parking and traffic-flow changes.
A second part of the project would include the removal of the current weight-training room and the maintenance office, which are housed in a wooden structure built 65 to 70 years ago.
“We’ve plastered and pasted that building together now for about five years,” Mohn said. “By taking that out, we create some other opportunities.”
One of the opportunities would be to improve parking and traffic flow along the east side of the current complex, where the boys’ locker rooms are located.
The gravel parking lot, which does not meet city code, would be hard-surfaced and a loading zone and parking area for buses would be added to enhance convenience and traffic flow.
“On game nights we always have the problem of buses parking (in inconvenient places),” Mohn said. “With this, visiting teams can pull into this area so students can get in and out of their dressing rooms.”
The entrance near the northeast corner of Brown Gymnasium would also be enhanced to make it more inviting for the public to park in the newly hard-surfaced parking lot on game nights, a move which would relieve street congestion.
Mohn said with the recent acquisition of the house immediately south of the present parking lot, the district may be able to add 30 to 40 parking spaces to the 53 spaces projected in the plan—if there’s cash left over when the rest of the projects are completed.
The need for maintenance and transportation space once the old wooden structure is removed will be addressed in a different component of the overall plan.
If the district can link with the city’s recreation program, the construction of a new weight-training area would serve the public as well as USD 410 athletes.
“Our goal on the weight room would be to make it accessible to the public,” Mohn said. “We haven’t talked in detail yet with city rec, but if it becomes a reality we’d like to partner with city rec a lot—like we do with the gym—so that in the evenings and before school and on the weekends, it can be open to the public.
“We’ll add a door so that one of these dressing rooms can be used for the weight facility.”
Max Heinrichs, activities director for the middle and high schools, said something has to be done in this area, whether or not the bond issue passes.
“Our weight room building is really collapsing,” Heinrichs said. “We have to do something, and we are really out of space.”
Heinrichs foresees expanding the health equipment offered in the new facility beyond weight-training.
“We’d like to add some cardio-vascular equipment in there—treadmills, steppers, bicycles and that kind of thing,” he said.
The athletic enhancements
Certainly a key component of the changes planned at the high school is the addition of dressing rooms, a training room and some office space for coaches.
“Right now, we have four good locker rooms, which, when we get into a tournament and you’re looking at boys’ and girls’ teams, you have 16 teams—and eight teams playing a night,” Heinrichs said. “It would be really nice to have nice locker rooms to put them in.
“The addition (that would connect the high school and middle school gymnasiums) would allow us to have four more locker rooms, and it would also allow us two hallways, so we wouldn’t have to walk outside the building to go from one gym to the other.”
The current boys’ locker rooms on the east end of the building were built in the mid-1970s, according to Heinrichs.
“Some improvements have been made, but not very many,” he said. “They need some major renovation, but they’re really not (situated) in a place that is conducive to help us where our needs are.
“If we’re closer to the (high school) gym, we would be able to get people in and out of their locker rooms and back to the gym on time to play.
“It’s not like it’s been a bad situation,” he added. “But it could be way more convenient.”
Heinrichs said in a pinch he has had to make teams dress in two old, undersized locker rooms near the middle school gym.
“They’re not very good,” Heinrichs said. “They’re small, they’ve got maybe two showers in them. A couple of the showers only dribble water.”
Grouping the locker rooms in a new central area would also address security problems that Heinrichs and Principal Dale Honeck face on game nights.
“It’s going to allow us to shut down parts of our building so people aren’t wandering all over,” Heinrichs said. “That is a key factor, if you ask Dale and me. I don’t get to see a lot of games because I’m running our hallways to make sure nothing’s going on in them.”
The addition of new rest rooms for general-public use would enable the school to lock the auditorium and tech areas of the building, where the current rest-room options are located.
“The other thing it does is put our coaches in an office area right in between the two gyms, which allows them easier access to practice and to watch those areas when we’re in class and in between games,” Heinrichs said.
“It will be a tremendous addition for us to have those locker rooms.”
Even though the Trojan Classic basketball tournament comes only one week a year, Heinrichs said additional locker rooms will benefit the school throughout the academic year.
“As we’ve added more sports, we need some division because we come in at different times and we leave at different times. It would allow us to secure certain locker rooms more than what we can now, and enhance security.
“Overall, it’s going to make it a better place for people to come to any of our games because of the rest-room facilities and the access to both gyms. I think it will make our building more functional.”
What isn’t included
Mohn said other improvements were on the district’s want list, such as air-conditioning for the gymnasium, new lighting for the auditorium and more off-street parking along Grand Street.
But the board set aside those components to lower the cost of the overall project, which came in initially at $10 million.
“We took the air-conditioning out,” Mohn said. “Our thing is once you put air-conditioning in, just on the maintenance side, people who take care of gym floors say you have to use the air-conditioning all the time or else you have such great temperature swings in summer that it makes it hard to maintain the floor.
“The other thing is, if it’s too hot on a Saturday to play volleyball in there, then it’s too hot to practice on Wednesday after school, too. So really you have to run the air-conditioner all the time.”
Mohn said research indicated the impact of air-conditioning would add $30,000 to $40,000 a year to the district’s utility bill, not to mention the $150,000 cost to install the system.
“We find ourselves saying we know it’s a big deal at times (to have an air-conditioned gym), but we had trouble justifying the expenditure when we have these other needs,” Mohn said.
“We know there are other projects (that the bond issue doesn’t include), like the auditorium,” he added. “We want to plan, over the next several years, to use capital outlay dollars to (address it).”
Next week: Football and track facilities with Tabor College.