PN-G multi-purpose facility scrapped

Published 11:22 am Friday, August 14, 2015

By Mary Meaux

The News staff writer

GROVES — A plan to create a multi-purpose facility on the Port Neches-Groves High School campus has been scrapped.

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After 10 months of deliberations and numerous school board meetings later, trustees with the Port Neches-Groves Independent School District approved a resolution to return all donations that were made for the construction of the facility during Monday’s board meeting.

The vote was passed 6-1 with trustee Rodney Balsamo giving the dissenting vote.

Trustee Rusty Brittain said, after the meeting, the reason for returning the donations was due to technicalities.

“The big donors expressed a desire for their money back,” Brittain said, adding they ‘didn’t see the facility being built.’

Back in October 2014, two local individuals came forward with a donation of $250,000 and the Athletic Booster Club pitched in $120,000 toward the funding of the building. A month later board members hired The LaBiche Architectural Group for architectural/engineering services for the project. The district added $150,000 to the total and it was thought, at that time, the facility would cost approximately $520,000 and that more donations would be added from the public.

Originally slated for 16,000 square foot in size, trustees learned in January the facility would be more costly than first thought.

Dohn LaBiche of The LaBiche Architectural Group gave a breakdown of cost per square foot for the building where PN-G High School athletics would hold practice during inclement weather. A 35-yard facility at the cost of $30 per square foot would come in at $536,975 and a 50-yard sized facility would be about double the price at anywhere from $1.2 to $1.6 million.

With the sticker shock worn off, trustees in February gave the green light for the small field that would be a metal building with roll-up doors but with no plumbing and be located at Park Street and Avenue G. The main object of contention was location.

Previous discussions included an area near the field house but major water and sewer lines hampered the idea.

Another possible location was near a residential area and would require an 8-foot fence and possibly cause noise problems. The chosen location would mean tearing up a fairly recently completed bus parking area.

By May, trustees decided to reject all bids for the project. Bids ranged from $773,750 to $885.000 for the 35-yard sized facility.

Board members voiced concern that to construct the no frills, small version of the facility would be an embarrassment, a disappointment and disrespect to the donors.

Meetings in June and July also saw much discussion but no ground gained regarding the decision to go ahead with the project. Also during this time board members learned the possibility of a deficit budget.