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$3.95 million bond vote May 16

The Sunnyside School Board will find out May 16 whether new athletic facilities will be constructed, hopefully in time for the 2006-07 school year.

A $3.95 million bond, the amount needed by the district to construct the facilities, will be put before voters on May 16. The total amount required for improvements is $4.95 million, but the district will use $1 million in available district funding.

After taking no action at its January meeting, the Sunnyside School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to authorize a bond issue to run to fund a scaled back, improved athletic facility.

The new look to the athletic facility proposal includes a total of 3,750 seats around a new football field, which will be placed inside the existing track and will feature an artificial playing surface.

The majority of seating, 2,500 seats, will be placed on the home sideline, with the remaining 1,250 being placed on the visitor's side.

The plan also goes away from the permanent stadium construction plan. Instead, if funding is approved, metal, bleacher-type seating will be installed on both sides.

Construction in that fashion will be quite durable, high school Athletic Director Bill Daley said. But, "like any structure you'll have wear and tear over time," Daley said.

The facility won't be constructed in two phases as originally planned. Instead, if the bond is approved, construction of the new bleachers along with locker rooms and restrooms, and the relocation and reorientation of the baseball field will all proceed at the same time.

The bond issue will ask voters to add a tax that amounts to a 28 cents per thousand dollars a home is valued. If it passes that would bring Sunnyside's property tax total to $1.72 per thousand dollars a home is valued.

"It still makes us the lowest tax rate with the exception of Mt. Adams in Yakima County," said Superintendent Rick Cole.

The bond will require 60 percent approval to pass.

Cole said he'd already been in contact with two companies that would do a majority of the work. Southern Bleacher would do construction of the seating. The company has been involved in constructing many notable facilities, including bleachers at Southern Methodist University and Iowa State University.

FieldTurf would be installed as the playing surface inside the track.

"This is not unique anymore," Daley said of the turf, which has been installed at hundreds of high school facilities throughout the country, including many in Washington.

The turf is also used by many major college and professional football teams, including the Washington State Cougars, Washington Huskies and Seattle Seahawks.

Sunnyside Board Director Miguel Puente said he liked the safety and cost effectiveness of the FieldTurf.

"Our kids deserve the best," Puente said.

If the bond passes, Cole said both companies have indicated that construction could be complete by as early as mid-September, and the district could shoot for holding its homecoming football game at the new facility.

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