The New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. board of trustees decided in a close vote to halt further construction of the New Albany High School freshman baseball field at the Billy Herman Park until further options are investigated.

In a meeting earlier this year, the board raised questions about the safety of the area due to testing that found elevated levels of lead in one area of the park next to a storage building.

However, at Monday night’s board meeting, Bill Wiseheart, director of facilities for the corporation, told the board additional testing showed no elevated levels of lead and the Floyd County Health Department and Evergreen Environmental, the investigating agency, deemed the fields safe.

Pictures taken of the site tested showed flooding, which caused some board members to be concerned.

“It was my understanding that it didn’t flood anymore,” said Rebecca Gardenour, board president.

Some board members expressed concern of the money being put into the field being “washed away.”

Wiseheart said the contract has the corporation paying the initial $17,000 for construction and $900 a year for maintenance. He said any damage caused by flooding would have to be repaired by the New Albany-Floyd County Parks and Recreation Department.

Board member Roger Whaley pointed out that when the area is flooded, students would have to play in another area, such as Mt. Tabor Elementary, where they have their games now.

Wiseheart told the board that they have two options — to go ahead with construction or to terminate the contract and pay the agreed maintenance fee for 2007 and the prorated amount for 2008. Although, he said he had not talked to the parks department about these options.

“I think the sooner we can get out of this contract we should do it,” Don Sakel, board member, said. “I think the time has come and we need to do away with it.”

“The facts really haven’t changed,” James Zoeller, board member, said, mentioning that the flooding has always been an issue. “The fields have been the same for the last 60 years.”

LeeAnn Wiseheart, board member, made a motion for the board to get out of the contract.

“You’re taking your foot off first,” Zoeller said, saying they needed to check out other options, such as other parks, before canceling the contract.

Neal Smith, board member, agreed, estimating that to build a field elsewhere could cost around $150,000 plus all maintenance fees.

In a 4-3 vote, the motion failed.

Patricia Badger-Byrd, board secretary, then made a motion to hold off on additional spending at the Billy Herman site until more options are investigated. That passed 5-2.

Chicago trip still on

Bill Briscoe, assistant to the superintendent for administration and operations, said at Monday’s board meeting that even though NA-FC teachers have said if no contract is reached by the end of this month, they will stop all voluntary services, including overnight trips, the sixth-grade Chicago trip is still on.

“There will be several teachers who will go on this trip,” he told the board. “We are seeking the help of the community and administrations to also help supervise.”

Briscoe also said the teachers’ association and school corporation will head back to the table with their state-appointed mediator to try to reach a contract agreement in the collective-bargaining process. That date is set for April 15.

Floyd Central High School construction update

Representatives from the Verkler construction management team said so far the project is about $600,000 under the more than $53 million budget and they hope to save even more. They recommended the following bids be awarded and the board agreed, 7-0.

• $2,324,192 to C-Trax, in Sellersburg, for site work and utilities.

• $3,695,000 to Batts Construction, in Indianapolis, for masonry.

• $435,021 to Carpet Decorators, in Central City, Ky., for ceramic tile.

• $93,930 to Rosa Mosaic, in Louisville, for terrazzo.

• $486,281.42 to Interface Services for tile carpeting.

• $970,588 to Howell and Howell, in Louisville, for painting and wall coverings.

• $298,902 to Spitz, Chadds Ford, Pain for planetarium equipment.

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