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The Cavaliers will have a brand new track, soccer field and tennis courts next year.
The La Salle-Peru Township High School Board on Thursday night awarded Vissering Construction of Streator the contract to build the school’s new athletic complex in north La Salle. With a bid of $3.8 million, Vissering was the lowest of five bidders for the project.
While that figure accounts for the majority of the work of building track and field facilities, a regulation soccer field and eight tennis courts on a portion of the school district’s 39-acre property at Chartres Street and Raccuglia Drive, the district will spend roughly $1 million more on the surface materials for the track and tennis courts and various other fixtures needed for the complex. Superintendent Steve Wrobleski explained the surface materials are being purchased through a cooperative system that will save money on the project.
In all, the project is now expected to come in nearly $1 million less than the previously approved $5.7 million budget.
Depending on weather, work at the site could begin within a month.
As previously reported, the district will pay for the complex with a combination of revenue sources. As part of a tax increment financing agreement, the city of La Salle will provide $100,000 per year for 10 years for the project. The school district will pay roughly $1 million from its capital projects fund. The rest will be covered with $3.9 million in alternate revenue source bonds, which will be paid back through future TIF revenues.
John Vezzetti of Bernardi Securities told the board he has already been able to pre-sell the bonds with 40 percent of them being sold locally.
The district will pay the bonds back over a 10-year period with a 2.14 percent interest rate.
“If there was ever a time to borrow, it’s now,” Vezzetti said of the low interest rate. The debt service on the bonds will be $440,000, he said.
Vezzetti noted that the district’s AA- rating — L-P is one of just two districts in the county with such a rating, he said — with Standard and Poor’s was beneficial in obtaining the low rate.
While the board was happy with the financial news regarding the project, there were some concerns over the bidding process.
“I really object to the way this bidding process was run,” board member Dr. Pete Meier said.
He explained that he learned the bidding process included pre-qualifications that limited bidders to general contractors that had performed at least three $5 million projects, including some school projects, in the past five years.
“I think that shut out local qualified contractors from the bidding,” Meier said. Board president Jim Quesse agreed that the bidding process should be made clearer to the board members, but he sees a benefit in the pre-qualification process.
“To do this with no pre-qualifications we open ourselves up to some very aggressive people who prey upon … public projects,” he said.
Stephen Nelson of Studio GC architecture firm, which oversaw the bidding process, said the pre-qualification process is to ensure that only qualified contractors are able to be receive the contract.
Board member Al Cherpeske commented that he’d to like see more in-district contractors and sub-contractors on L-P projects.
“We need to keep local people at work here,” he said.
In-district sub-contractors are expected to work on the athletic complex development.