Board of Education: Park City High School facilities don’t measure up
September 1, 2015
Perhaps no element of the Park City School District’s large-scale project list up for a bond election in November has drawn more vocal public input — both for and against — than the athletic facilities.
And it is up to the Park City Board of Education to ultimately balance the community’s wants and the needs of the student-athletes as it asks residents to pass a bond that includes more than $12 million for athletic upgrades. To that end, Board members last week toured the district’s facilities, as well as those of three other comparable school districts — Morgan, Wasatch and Bear River — to see just how far Park City is behind its peers.
For several of the Board members, it was a jarring and enlightening experience. They reported that there is a large gulf between Park City and the schools it competes against.
"My No. 1 impression was that we are at the bottom of the barrel," said Board member Phil Kaplan. "We heard it from parents, but it’s pretty eye-opening to see it yourself, as far as the level of the facilities. There’s been essentially zero investment in our indoor facilities since about 1972 when they were built."
Problems that parents and administrators have cited with Park City’s amenities include: there aren’t enough locker rooms, a cramped and unsafe basketball gym that has caused some schools to decline to play PCHS, and a lack of indoor practice space for teams that play during the winter months.
The district has allotted money in the bond to renovate the basketball gym and is considering building a field house that could be utilized by all the high school’s teams. One plan that has been discussed calls for consolidating athletic facilities — including a field house and a new Dozier Field — to near where Treasure Mountain Junior High currently sits.
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"That would allow us to be smart with the taxpayers’ money when we build," Kaplan said. "We don’t need to have six sets of locker rooms distributed in several areas of the campus. You can basically build a central team get-ready area that serves both the field house and fields and the new Dozier. You don’t have to build it three times."
Kaplan said the proposed athletic facilities — whose details have yet to be determined — likely won’t be a "Rolls-Royce" but would represent a large improvement over the current amenities, which he compared to a 1987 Pinto.
"Bottom line is we need to balance being fiscally responsible, and I think the dollar amount that we’re looking at investing will definitely force us to make some choices," Kaplan said. "I think with the money that we’ve allocated in this bond, we’d be able to make some nice improvements. We don’t need to be top-of-the-pack, but we should be competitive, considering we’ve got eight championship sports programs coming out of our schools."
Many in the community — mostly parents of athletes or coaches — have been vocal about the need for a field house and other improvements. But several others have been opposed to the possible changes. Some have argued vehemently against moving Dozier Field — necessary if a proposed expansion of Park City High School goes to the west — saying it would be too costly, would bring increased traffic onto Kearns Boulevard and would be a nuisance to neighbors in the area. They’ve offered similar arguments against a field house.
Board member Nancy Garrison said the districts they toured that have built field houses also faced opposition from some residents. But now, she said, many of those detractors have changed their minds since the facilities have been opened.
A similar scenario could play out in Park City, she said. She added that the tour has made her much better informed about the positive effects an improvement to the athletic facilities could have.
"It was remarkable to see two districts much smaller than our own providing students with safe indoor practice areas," she said. "I feel like I now know that we are going to be able to do what the community has asked us to do."
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