Of all the projects completed with the $37.8 million in referendum money approved back in 2007, perhaps none has undergone more scrutiny than a 12-by-12-foot concession stand erected on the north side of Greenfield High School.
Some Greenfield School Board members want to know why it cost so much to build, and was there an opportunity to save money.
The concession stand came with a $68,000 price tag, roughly half of which was funded by referendum money and the other half through the district’s buildings and grounds budget.
Three months ago, board member Cathy Walsh asked that the board be provided with details on how referendum money has been spent, and what the remaining funds will be spent on. At that time, she said she was embarrassed that she didn’t know more about the concession stand, why it was built and how much it cost.
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At a board meeting Monday, the concession stand was the center of attention again.
“People have come up to me and said … ‘it seems excessive,’” board president Bruce Bailey said. “The taxpayers of Greenfield have been very good to us. We have a new auditorium, a natatorium. All they ask for is that their money be spent wisely. … It might appear to be a little high, and I’m just wondering if we had gone to a bid process we could get it done cheaper.”
Superintendent Conrad Farner said CG Schmidt, the construction management and general contracting firm that handled the high school project, did put individual projects out to bid, and that the decision to build the concession stand was made by the district’s construction team that consisted largely of administrators and other district employees.
“It was always in the plan,” Farner said. “It was a ‘hope for’ thing. When we had the money at the end with projects winding down, it was something we had the desire to do.”
Farner explained the structure was a sound investment because over time, it will pay for itself with the revenue it generates from concessions during baseball and softball games and tennis matches.
The concession stand was expensive because it was built with sewer hookups for future bathrooms, and water lines needed to be connected from the northwest end of the parking lot, buildings and grounds supervisor Mike Datza said.
“We oversized the plumbing for future bathroom possibilities. We oversized the waterlines going to it for watering the baseball diamonds,” Datza said. “We were thinking ahead, thinking of the future.”
Added Farner: “It’s built to last. It’s not built to be a shed that had to be replaced in 10-15 years.”
Still, some board members were concerned the district overpaid.
“All I know is you can build half a house for $68,000,” Rick Moze said. “You can build a whole house with a basement, bathrooms and everything else for $140,000.”
Others want more answers about how CG Schmidt managed the bid process, especially considering CG Schmidt itself and Richards Street Supply, a CG Schmidt-owned entity, won several of the bids.
“When I was still on the board, CG Schmidt was coming and giving regular reports,” Walsh said. “But in the two years I was off the board, when they spent another $1 million, they stopped giving those reports. That’s one of the reasons why I asked for this report originally. I felt like once they pulled up stakes and were done with the major project of the building, the board and the public didn’t hear too much and didn’t really know what the costs were.
“We have too many questions we should know the answers to.”
Farner said he would request a CG Schmidt representative attend a future board meeting.