The Fort Smith school board approved at its Monday night meeting a new multi-year lease agreement with the Boys and Girls Club.
Southside has utilized the sports fields owned by the Evans Boys and Girls Club for girls softball and boys baseball, while Northside has used Hunts Park for boys baseball.
According to the agenda packet, Southside uses the Evans fields nine months out of the year, or 75 percent of their annual use. The Boys and Girls Club is responsible for the maintenance of the turf on the fields, which needs to be replaced about every 10 years.
The club is increasing the annual lease price to $15,000 per field and a $1,000 increase for each field each year the turf remains functional. This means the first year lease will be $30,000 and end at $48,000 the final year of the lease. Estimates for the turf replacement is $500,000, and a fundraising committee was formed to help raise money to pay for the maintenance.
Northside will continue to use the Hunts Park grass field for $5,000 per year.
FSSD will be responsible for maintaining the fields, including mowing, grass fertilization and weeding; maintaining the dugout interior, warning track and scoreboard; cleaning and stocking the bathrooms, seating, bleachers and other areas as needed; prepare the field for practices and games; work with the club to ensure there are no scheduling conflicts; securing the facilities after use; and repair or replace broken or lost equipment, among other responsibilities.
The Evans Boys and Girls Club field agreement is for 10 years and may be terminated by either party at the end of the term with 30 days advance written notice to the other party, according to the agreement.
The district will have similar responsibilities in maintaining the Hunts Park field, according to the agreement, which is only a 12-month contract. If either party wants to terminate the agreement, it must provide 30 days advance notice to the other party in writing.
“I think it’s great,” Board Vice President Bill Hanesworth said. “The fact they’re going to replace this at the end of 10 (years), we won’t be faced with this again. It’s kind of a blessing.”
Barry Owen, Fort Smith chief academic officer, said the district has leased the fields for approximately 30 years. He told the board the administration recommended approving the lease agreements.
Owen said the district looked at the cost of building similar facilities, and it would be approximately $2.5 million. Over the span of 10 years, however, it will pay $318,000 to lease the fields.
“I think the public needs to know that we’re trying to be good stewards,” said Board Member Talicia Richardson. “It’s not ideal for these students to have to travel away from the school, but considering our circumstances, I think this is a great way to work with what we have.”
Both agreements go into effect Nov. 1, according to the contracts.