It won’t be nearly as comprehensive or costly as the past two referendums, but Milton School District residents will soon have another chance to vote on facilities.
The school board voted Monday to hold a special electorate meeting March 12, where residents will decide whether to purchase the Hawk Zone. The former Varsity Lanes bowling alley, 450 S. John Paul Road, has primarily been used as additional practice space for high school athletic teams.
Milton has rented the building for the past year from Backyard Properties. The owner now plans to sell rather than renew the rental agreement.
The building itself would cost $485,000. The district would also be responsible for $15,000 worth of electrical upgrades, bringing the total price tag to $500,000, Communications Supervisor Jerry Schuetz said.
The school board approved two motions related to the Hawk Zone. One established the option to purchase the building. The other agreed to give the electorate the right to make the decision.
Both measures passed 6-1. Board member Brian Kvapil voted against each. He has often been the board’s lone dissenter in past facility-related questions.
Holding an electorate meeting to purchase the building is required by state statute, Schuetz said. The vote is scheduled for 6 p.m. March 12 inside the Hawk Zone prior to the regular board meeting.
Board member Karen Hall voted in favor of the special electorate meeting, but she questioned the Hawk Zone’s price tag. The building is assessed at $498,000; the district would be paying slightly more than that once the electrical work is included.
Athletic Director Brian Hammil said the Hawk Zone would be a valuable stopgap solution to give student-athletes more practice space. If the district passed a more expansive athletics package in a future referendum, the building could easily be resold, he said.
Milton’s baseball and softball teams use the Hawk Zone for hitting and other practice drills. The building can also be used by other teams and for non-athletic purposes, District Administrator Tim Schigur said.
Kvapil said the district would be making a mistake if it purchased the facility. For $500,000, Milton could partially fix its outdated swimming pool or finish updating secure entrances at different schools, he said.
Finding a solution for the pool was a focal point of the lengthy meeting. The public comment period lasted 90 minutes, and the vast majority of comments came from parents or students encouraging the school board to fix the pool. Some advocated on behalf of both upgrading the pool and buying the Hawk Zone.
The district has previously said its insurance carrier will evaluate next month whether the pool is safe enough to stay open.
Kvapil preferred work on the pool to buying the Hawk Zone because it was the only swimming facility in Milton.
“This isn’t like a pool where we don’t have anything,” he said. “The athletes that are in there (the Hawk Zone) do have options, whereas swimming they don’t.”