Hortonville school can opt out if it builds fields
By Scott Bellile
The Hortonville School Board approved a facilities rental agreement with Hortonville Commercial Club that will allow the school district to terminate the contract if the high school decides to build baseball fields.
Hortonville High School’s JV and varsity baseball teams will continue to play home games and practice at the Commercial Club Park ball diamond for the next 10 years. Under the contract approved by the board Sept. 26, Hortonville Area School District will pay $2,500 a year to rent the field, and the Commercial Club will put $500 of that annual payment into field improvements.
Newly added to the contract was a clause that allows either party to break the agreement with a one-year notice. This would allow the school district an out if it ever builds ball fields at Hortonville High School. In previous contracts, HASD was locked in for the entire duration the contract covered.
Hortonville School Board President Paul Thome clarified at the Sept. 12 meeting of the Public Relations and Long Range Planning Committee, which was charged with deciding parameters for the contract, that no discussions of building ball fields have taken place.
However, the district is hoping a proposed renovation of its Akin Field athletic complex, funded by donors, will soon become a reality. Considering work would take place at the football field and track, the school may assess whether it makes sense to add ball diamonds.
“If we have enough room for a [football] practice field, could you put baseball diamonds over there and softball diamonds over there? There is room,” Thome told the committee. “If the football renovation comes through, there is physical room to do it. We know that. There is also room to put batting cages next to them.”
“That’s part of the reason we’re putting in that one-year notice, in case we have options, but at this point there are none,” committee member Dave Schlichting replied.
HHS Principal Timm said there are frustrations that come with running a field. The school’s booster club wants to invest in improving the facility but only if the Polar Bears will use it long-term.
“It was a sticking point on providing upkeep for the facility,” Timm said. “Commercial Club, in their last offer, they offered to provide the upkeep but then charge us for it, which would be an astronomical amount because they didn’t have the equipment that the school utilized which was their rationale.”
As per the agreement, HASD will continue to mow, line the field and maintain the diamond during baseball season.
The Public Relations and Long Range Planning Committee began discussing the contract last fall because it was set to expire at the end of 2016. HHS Athletic Director Andy Kolosso and Timm couldn’t reach an agreement with Hortonville Commercial Club so they brought the topic before the committee.
The committee discussed options including renting from a park in Greenville and moving baseball games there, or building its own baseball fields off-campus, but determined neither would work. Discussions continued into 2016 as far as what was important to HASD, and both parties eventually reached an agreement.