Mesa school district, city leaders to discuss options for new recreation sites - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Mesa school district, city leaders to discuss options for new recreation sites

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Posted: Thursday, March 29, 2012 2:17 pm

Mesa city and school district leaders will meet Friday morning to discuss the potential of creating new public recreation sites in the next few years.

Members from the Mesa City Council and Mesa Unified School District governing board will look at conceptual ideas for an aquatics center at Mesa High School, a sports-field complex at the Mesa Education Center (formerly Powell Junior High School) and adjacent Kleinman Park at 710 S. Extension Road, and a sports complex at the soon-to-be-closed Mesa Junior High School site.

The ideas could be funded with bond efforts through the city, the school district or through a joint effort, Superintendent Mike Cowan told the school district governing board Tuesday night.

But the district is on a bit of a timeline. Already, it’s considering a November bond election to raise funds needed to address facility issues. A facilities planning committee is working to draft a 10-year-plan for the district, and may recommend what should be addressed first in that bond issue.

But in order to get on the November ballot, the governing board must notify the county of its intent to do so by June 9.

“This is a huge decision and we really need to have that dialogue,” board member Mike Hughes said Tuesday. “I hope we can get specific direction and for the (facilities) panel, we need to nail some of this stuff down.”

Because of declining enrollment districtwide, the governing board voted late last fall to close Mesa Junior High and turn Brimhall Junior High School into a permanent site for several Franklin schools now located in campuses created by portable buildings.

At the time, district leaders said they were in discussions with the city about what to do with the Mesa Junior High School site. One proposal was to create a sports complex there — with much-needed soccer fields for youth and adults. Friday’s meeting could launch that effort.

But the facilities planning committee is also discussing the site.

“We’re having conversations about the property of Mesa Junior and do we proceed forward or do we hold that piece of property in reserve for future educational sites,” board member Mike Nichols said Tuesday night. Nichols is also a member of the district’s facilities committee.

Cowan told the board members that if they want to proceed with any of the conceptual recreation ideas following Friday’s meeting, they should ask the administration and the city to research the interest of the neighborhood, the tax impact and the financial costs.

“We would need to look at the feasibility, especially if this becomes a bond issue for the city or schools,” Cowan told the Tribune later this week. “This is the conceptual idea. They will need to talk about the feasibility of it, the viability of it and the management.”

The district’s facilities committee is scheduled to meet again 6 p.m. Thursday.

The district and the city have worked together on joint efforts in the past, the most recent being the aquatics center at Skyline High School, which opened last spring. All of the city’s other public pools are located on junior high school campuses around the city.

“This is highly conceptual,” Cowan told the board. “We need to find out, are you interested or are you not? Then we’ll roll up our sleeves. The issue for us is we have specific timelines we need to address.”

Calls to the city for comment were not immediately returned Thursday.

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