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MGSD seeks $2.5 million for arts/athletic center shortfall
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MGSD seeks $2.5 million for arts/athletic center shortfall

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Town commissioners could vote Monday on a request from the Mooresville Graded School District for $2.5 million to help in building the district’s new performing arts center and athletics complex, money that would make up for September’s higher-than-expected construction bids.

District officials had been looking for ways to make cuts in the performing arts/athletic complex -- which makes up the greatest part of the overall $38.8 million expansion and improvement project at Mooresville High School – ever since bids came in unexpectedly high. That prompted the MGSD to delay the start of construction for about six weeks.

The project was approved by Iredell voters last year as part of a countywide $131.5 million education bond package for the MGSD and Iredell-Statesville Schools.

But instead of making significant cuts in aspects of the performing arts center in the aftermath of higher bids, the MGSD told town commissioners that the community would be better served by keeping the original plan, thus the $2.5 million request.

During a Friday morning agenda briefing with commissioners, MGSD Superintendent Mark Edwards and Director of Operations Todd Black detailed the project for the town board.

“This center would be a place of endless opportunity,” said Edwards, who added that it would not only serve the students at Mooresville High School, but would also allow for larger theatre productions to come to Mooresville.

The school system hired a theatre consultant to help design the center, which would boast about 56,000 square feet. It would be part of a larger complex that would not only include the performing arts center, but also an athletics complex, both where the former baseball fields for Mooresville High School were located.

The building, which would total about 112,000 square feet, will replace the school’s current auditorium and gymnasium.

Black’s slideshow displayed the features of the auditorium, including a fly-loft with a walk-on grid and roof deck, (which allows for productions to drop scenery down while changing scenes), a 64-channel Allen and Heath Digital Mixing System that would accommodate large-scale productions and concerts, line-array speakers for focusing sound toward the audience, performance LED light fixtures and seating for 1,600.

The performing arts center would also incorporate classroom space for the art, band, drama and the choral departments.

The MGSD purchased and razed six homes along Cabarrus Avenue to make room for an additional 230 parking spaces for the performing arts center and nearby Edgemoor Park.

“Parking is at a premium in Mooresville and around the high school,” said Edwards. “By purchasing those homes, we now have a large area beside the auditorium that would allow parking for large-scale events not only at the school, but in town.”

Edwards said he had spoken to several other school systems that had paired up with their towns to create performing arts centers, including Greeneville, Tenn., and believed that working together to create the facility would be a “quality of life enhancer.”

“We’ve already heard from a lot of dance groups and cheer squads that are interested in using it, and there are a host of other opportunities that we would be able to take advantage of with a center like this,” he said. “We have a stellar choral program, one of the best bands in the state and an outstanding drama department and this facility could serve tens of thousands of people now and in the future.”

He added that he considered the project “paying it forward” to future users and encouraged community leaders to invest.

“It’s a multi-use facility that’s good for more than just plays,” he said. “This could be another great example of maximizing our resources and it would set Mooresville apart. Working with the town would show that the community is once again coming together to do great things for its citizens.”

Commissioner Thurman Houston said he was “impressed” by the research and details that Edwards and Black presented.

“You’ve done a lot of homework to come up with these ideas,” Houston said, referring to the copper feeders on the breakers to eliminate feedback and the LED lighting for energy-savings.

Commissioner Lisa Qualls seemed hesitant about the complex, pointing out that the town already recently partnered with the school system for the new tennis complex. “If we agree, we’re creeping up to almost $3 million in partnership funding, correct?” she asked, which Edwards confirmed.

No other commissioners comment on the funding request.

In other news, the town on Monday will consider awarding a contract to Stewart Design & Architecture in an amount not to exceed $121,000 for the design, construction documentation and bid and project management for the Liberty Park Transformation Project.

The project would “convert Liberty Park into a revitalized downtown event, market and performance venue,” with the funding coming from the town’s 2015 Recreation Bonds Capital Project Budget Ordinance.

Also up for consideration is the golf course clubhouse, with a contract for architectural services to ADW Architects, P.A. in the amount of $155,748. The contract would cover design and engineering services associated with the construction of the clubhouse and money would come from the general funds to establish the Golf Course Clubhouse Capital Project Budget.

The board will meet on Monday at 6 p.m. in Town Hall.

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