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Proposed community center to be topic of public forum

R-3 board also approves softball complex design

by Kim Tiefenthaler
Landmark reporter

Platte County R-3 School District Superintendent Dr. Mark Harpst has announced that a school/community forum will address the proposed community center project.

The forum, slated for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4 at the high school auditorium, will present information regarding the proposed center, while answering questions and concerns the public may have regarding the issue.

"The proposed community center affects the school district, community and all of Platte County," said Harpst. "It's important we get an understanding of the support for the community center on school property."

The school district, in a collaborative effort with Platte County and the YMCA, would be looking at contributing some property in exchange for the students being able to use the community center.

The 10-acre property surrounding the career center that's in consideration is appraised at $1.4-2.4 million.

"For us to be involved with our students using the property, we would have to be assured of an aquatic center, multi-purpose complex and a walking/jogging track being on the drawing board," stated Harpst. "What we can provide for our students is our number one priority."

Even though the community center is still in the proposal stage, Harpst stated that despite the outcome of the project, the board is concerned with having another school on the campus.

"I invite anyone to come up to the campus between 7:30-7:45 every morning and see the amount of traffic at the campus and they'll understand my point," explained Harpst. "We've gained 267 students at the high school in the last ten years. Since the 1998-1999 school year, our enrollment has increased from 509 students to 667 students this year."

In other business, the school board received a presentation from the design engineer in charge of the baseball/softball field complex. The school board approved design scheme 1.

In the approved scheme, the new softball field will be adjacent to the present baseball field, with a new concession stand/public restroom area, picnic area, a 500-person seating area for both fields, separate press boxes for each field and recessed dugouts.

The construction of the softball field and improvement to the baseball field is possible by a collaborative effort of Platte County, the City of Platte City, the Platte City Athletic Association and the School District. Each entity contributed $35,000, with the exception of the Athletic Association, who will be matching with an in-kind donation of labor.

Harpst stated, the project, estimated to cost $230,000, will hope to be completed in time for next fall's games.

Harpst also presented the school board with a handout comparing the top 10 area tax levies for 2001. Platte County R-3 School District's total tax levy was $4.0916 per $100 of assessed valuation, the lowest of several other school districts in the area.

"I'm proud as a superintendent that we can compete with other school districts, yet we're doing it with much less revenue," said Harpst.

The school district was recently recognized for its academic and extracurricular activities within the conference.

For the first time since entering the conference four years ago, Platte County R-3 School District was recognized and honored for their efforts within the conference with the presentation of the Supremacy Award for Midland Empire Conference.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 16 at the Platte County R-3 School District Central Office.