It’s official: Sunnyside School District patrons will be asked to OK $6.9 million sports complex

A new sports complex in Sunnyside would upgrade the existing track behind Sunnyside High School and Harrison Middle School to a stadium; upgrade the current varsity baseball diamond and add two more diamonds behind Chief Kamiakin Elementary School; and add softball diamonds and more parking in an area behind the high school the district would have to purchase using other funds than would be collected through a six-year levy.

Graphic courtesy of Sunnyside School District and Loofburrow Wetch Architects
A new sports complex in Sunnyside would upgrade the existing track behind Sunnyside High School and Harrison Middle School to a stadium; upgrade the current varsity baseball diamond and add two more diamonds behind Chief Kamiakin Elementary School; and add softball diamonds and more parking in an area behind the high school the district would have to purchase using other funds than would be collected through a six-year levy.

A proposal to build a $6.9 million Sunnyside High School sports complex will go before voters this November.

The school district, based on a unanimous vote by the school board last Thursday, will ask for a levy of $1,147,760 annually for six years to provide a total of $6,886,240, with collection starting in 2015 and ending in 2020. The final cost to taxpayers would be between 90 and 95 cents per $1,000 assessed value of property.

The complex would be situated behind Sunnyside High School, Harrison Middle School and Chief Kamiakin Elementary School and would give the district the ability to host tournaments as well as provide top-notch facilities for the district’s own student-athletes.

“We looked at the options and whether to locate the grandstands and fields somewhere else,” said Sunnyside Schools Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole. “But the architects think it’s just going to work better to put it all in one place.”

The design of the complex calls for upgrading the existing tennis courts and the varsity baseball diamond. The current Clem Senn field would be turned into a dedicated soccer field, also to be used for physical education classes.

The new football field would be installed at the existing track behind Harrison Middle School. The facility would include a new track and have a multi-use turf field. The facility design at that new football field includes a grandstand that seats 3,750. It also includes a concessions stand and restrooms.

The design calls for another soccer field to be placed south of the new football field, and two baseball diamonds south of that, stretching down to Lincoln Avenue.

The school district plan also involves buying property along Yakima Valley Highway behind the high school to put in more parking, another soccer field and a four-field softball complex. The money for the land purchase would come from a different source than the levy voters will be asked to approve, according to Cole.

“We’re going to need to move the softball fields anyway due to the construction of the new Washington Elementary School,” said Director Steve Winfree. “Better to do it all now than to try to get it done piecemeal. This completes the high school.”

Winfree noted that the soccer fields will get intense use by the community, and new soccer fields are always welcome in town. The complex would have a total of four soccer fields, two of them competition level.

Cole told the school board that because Sunnyside is centrally located, the new complex would make it easier for other schools to hold tournaments. This will likely bring business into town, according to Cole.

“It’s not just going to help the school, it’s going to help the entire community,” said Director Dylan Gardner.

Cole also noted that the new grandstands will improve the graduation ceremony experience, as all attendees will be able to sit in one place and enjoy the commencement exercise.

“This will be for everyday use for kids in Sunnyside, first,” said Board Chairman Rocky Simmons. “There will be extended opportunities outside that for other events.”

Cole also said the process of building the complex will not have to wait until all the money is collected from the levy. The full value of the project can be bonded and paid off as the levy is collected, meaning if the project is approved by voters, it can start in 2015.

“I am thrilled that we are at this point,” said Director Sandra Linde. “We have the high school, it’s going to be a 4A school. Having good facilities for sports is part of educating the whole child.”

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