Oak Hill United School Corporation will get a new turf baseball diamond, expanded parking and an updated junior high roof, according to plans announced Monday night.

Work on the existing front parking lot is expected to begin soon, Schmidt Associates consulting employee Kyle Miller said, while the corporation prepares to build a new baseball stadium north of the softball field and replace the existing field with a new parking lot once baseball season is over. Soft and hard costs for the project are estimated to not exceed approximately $4.7 million.

The school board unanimously approved documents that authorize the school corporation to borrow a maximum of nearly $5.6 million to cover the cost of the construction and financing of the project.

Of that total, the corporation could end up spending $860,000 in interest and other costs that will go toward the financing of the project. The corporation plans to use bond anticipation notes, which will allow the district to access money and build now but wait to issue bonds and make payments until 2026, the year when the corporation’s debt payments drop from about $3 million to $1.5 million.

Baker Tilly financial advisor Belvia Gray said this financial structure will allow the corporation to not exceed its current debt payment level, and Superintendent Chad Cripe said the financial structure “allows us to control the tax rate moving forward.”

The resolution passed Monday states that the tax rate is not expected to rise above its current rate due to the project.

“One of the things we talked to the school about was obviously there’s a need for the project and how they can accomplish the projects now while also taking into account being sensitive to increases in tax rate,” she said.

The synthetic turf field will cost $2.6 million, the baseball field demolition and new parking lot will cost just under $1 million, and the junior high roof will cost nearly $250,000, according to Miller. The resurfacing and expansion of the front parking lot is expected to cost slightly less than $250,000, Miller says.

The project was originally part of plans created by the school board and Schmidt Associates in 2014. Cripe said the project will address safety issues caused by not having a parking lot divided up into carpool, bus and student parking sections. Cripe also said the project addresses the middle school roof, which is the last roof that needs updated according to Cripe.

The project will also allow youth sports to be moved away from the highway and get the baseball facility up to speed with other athletic infrastructure.

“(Turf) does a lot of things for you. It’s the premier surface to play on,” Cripe said regarding the school’s investment into turn softball and football fields. “It allows you to play on it when it’s raining. It allows us to host events ... By the time you get done everything that goes into a grass field, the turf really works. The turf really is a big benefit to us.”

Cripe said the board has done a great job of maintaining and updating its academic facilities, so it is excited to break ground on the next phase of the 2014 building plan.

“The bonding allowed us to put this on once our other debt falls off so it really allows us to be able to happen. We feel really happy about the state of our buildings and that we are moving forward,” he said. “This is something our board really wanted to do for our community and for students, and we are happy to have that.”

Miller said the look of the ballfield will be similar to the softball field project from 2014. However, he says it will be larger scale due to the field dimensions. The ball diamond will include dugouts, a wall with netting, same-style beachers, according to Miller.

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