NEW PALESTINE — It’s time for some new athletic updates at New Palestine High School, district officials have determined. While district officials recently created a new varsity softball field and built a new fieldhouse with multiple basketball/volleyball courts and an indoor running track, officials have determined there is still more to do before their athletic facilities are where they want them.

 Officials with the Southern Hancock school district are making plans to get a new turf baseball field and new tennis courts with a $4 million bond. Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

The district is in the process of moving forward with plans to renovate its high school tennis courts and the varsity baseball field, another multi-million dollar project.

While the new varsity softball field and new fieldhouse are both part of the district’s massive $49 million renovation project still underway, the new work on the baseball and tennis athletic areas is not.

The district plans to hold a public hearing to discuss a $4 million general obligation bond during the next school board meeting slated for 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 13. The measure for the new courts and turf baseball field was first introduced during the February school board meeting.

“The work on the baseball field and tennis courts is sorely needed,” said Wes Anderson, the district’s community relations spokesperson. “I know last year we couldn’t really play tennis at the high school and had to play at the junior high because of issues with our high school tennis courts.”

Anderson noted the $4 million bond will not cause a significant increase to the tax base due to the fact they had some other bonds falling off their debt and are simply replacing them with the new $4 million bond for the athletic projects.

In addition to purchasing a new turf field for the varsity baseball diamond — estimated to cost $1.16 million — the district is earmarking $100,000 for new dugouts, $100,000 for a new fence, $44,000 for the architect, $10,000 for surveying the project and $70,000 for contingency. That brings the total budget for the new baseball field to $1.49 million.

As for the rest of the $4 million general obligation bond, officials have estimated new tennis courts will cost $580,000. The district plans to use the rest of the money, some $1.25 million, for buses. They’ve also set aside $550,000 for maintenance while noting the cost for insurance will be $125,000 to equal some $2.5 million.

Anderson noted the new varsity baseball field is going to be just like the new varsity softball field. It also means the district will now have turf on all their major fields, including the high school football field, something they invested in several years ago to help prevent rain-outs, drainage issues and to cut down on massive maintenance costs.

“The first step in the process to get this going and rolling was introducing the G.O. bond,” Anderson said.

District officials hope to start working on the new baseball field as soon as the upcoming season is over, which could be after graduation in late May.

“I think the goal is to get it started by summer,” Anderson said. “We’d like to have baseball done in time for fall ball.”

It’s the same plan for the tennis courts, Anderson noted, saying they hope to get both project completed as soon as possible so students can enjoy the new facilities at the start of the next school year.

“Once we get the new field and the courts done, our athletic department should be in really good shape for many, many years to come,” Anderson said.