Work expected to start soon on tennis courts at Bernard

Knost seeks additional grant for new district tennis courts

By Kari Williams

Construction is expected to begin this month on the Mehlville School District’s tennis court complex at Bernard Middle School, but the courts may not be playable until spring.

Director of Facilities Steve Habeck told the district’s Facilities Committee last week that though the contractor, Byrne & Jones Construction, gave a “pretty aggressive schedule,” putting the acrylic finish on the surface could hold up the project.

“You need to have seven consecutive days that it can’t get below 50 degrees,” Habeck told the committee. “By the time we get this asphalt in and it’s winter, I don’t see it not dipping below 50 at night.”

The school board selected Byrne & Jones as the project contractor at its Sept. 25 meeting at a cost of $513,896. Value engineering — asking the contractor to consider options to lower the cost — of $10,910 brought Byrne & Jones’ base bid of $524,806 down to the approved amount.

Rebates from the U.S. Tennis Association, USTA Missouri Valley and American Express totaling $79,230 lower the cost to $434,666 — under the $450,000 budget.

A contingency of roughly $15,000 puts the total cost right at the $450,000 budget.

Byrne & Jones gave the district the option of installing a playable “latex-type surface” for roughly $4,000 to $5,000 per court until the weather cooperates, according to Habeck.

“It’s just an option they threw out there. It’s not in the bid or anything,” he said. “They did tell us to be aware for us to get this thing 100 percent finished by the time we hit that 50 degree mark is almost impossible,” Habeck said. “We all agree on that … We’re not going to rush this project through …”

Habeck said there could also be other options to explore, but did not mention specific examples.

Board member Rich Franz, who attended the meeting, asked if the courts will not be usable until April, why the is project beginning now, to which Habeck said the same challenges would exist in the spring.

“It doesn’t hurt anything to get it done ahead of time,” Habeck said. “The challenge in the spring would be probably the rain …”

Superintendent Eric Knost told the Call the only concern with the winter weather is the painting, striping and sealing, but it will not hinder the construction of the courts.

Board member Ron Fedorchak, who attended the meeting, asked what the possibility would be of the contractor working during the winter if the weather cooperates.

Habeck said he is sure the contractor would and also noted the existing courts at Oakville Senior High and Oakville Middle will still be able to be used.

Knost said the tennis court project has “been an interesting job” because the district was “at the mercy of people (it was) trying to get money from.”

Despite that holding up the project “a little bit,” Knost said he would do it again because more than $55,000 of the project is being funded without taxpayer money.

“At minimum right now, we’re at $57,500 of non-Mehlville taxpayer money that (is) making these courts a reality,” Knost said. “So, when you have those opportunities, you’ve got to be willing to bend.”

Knost also said he is pursuing an additional $10,000 beyond what the USTA has granted to put toward the cost of the complex. He said it is “highly possible” the district will receive “some, if not all, of that.”

No recommendations were made regarding installing the latex surface on the tennis courts.