Athletic field improvements

MAPS approves contracts for new track, high school electrical system upgrades

An aerial drone shot of the progress made on the reconstruction of the Marquette Senior High School field is shown. The new field opened Oct. 14 and improvements to the track are expected this year. (Photo courtesy of Becky Simmons)

MARQUETTE — The Marquette Area Public Schools Board of Education on Monday approved nearly $350,000 in contracts related to resurfacing the district’s track at Marquette Senior High School’s athletic complex and upgrading the building’s electrical system, a move necessary to support construction of an auxiliary gymnasium.

The board unanimously supported a $238,200 contract with Oberstar Inc. to resurface the track.

“The purpose for this project, No. 1, is to upgrade the track that was in dire need of repair, but equally, we are making our track compliant with the addition of discus and high jump, pole vault areas so that we would be able to host the (Upper Peninsula) track and field finals,” board President Rich Rossway said.

MAPS Superintendent Bill Saunders said the district should be able to apply to the Michigan High School Athletic Association this summer to host the event once the upgrades to the track are complete.

Saunders also said hosting the MHSAA event was a big selling point for community members when they in May 2016 approved a $6.285 million bond, part of which will be used to pay for resurfacing the track.

“We had a lot of community members that wanted us to go out and get that event back,” he said. “I’ve been hearing it throughout my career here and certainly as we started to put that list together, talking to a lot of the business community and others, that’s something that they wanted Marquette Area Public Schools to certainly shoot for. … We certainly probably won’t get it every year, but hopefully we’ll at least be on a rotation with Kingsford to get it every other year. It draws thousands and thousands of folks, fills hotels and a lot of people will be in attendance for those events.”

The board also unanimously approved a contract of $108,500 with Master Electric to upgrade the electric system at the high school.

Saunders said the project was built into the district’s sinking fund, but wasn’t scheduled as a priority to be completed this summer.

“With the addition of the auxiliary gym, with the bond, it did have to move up now on the priority list,” he said. “We weren’t able to accommodate the electrical needs of the auxiliary gym without redoing the … electrical room here at the high school. So that project is now kind of married and we moved it up on our timeline in order to accommodate that.”

In addition to paying for the track resurfacing, the bond was to be used to fund upgrades to the football field and construction of the auxiliary gymnasium at the high school, as well as Shiras Planetarium improvements, expansions to the Kaufman Auditorium dressing rooms and additional classrooms at Superior Hills and Cherry Creek elementary schools.

The .2-mill levy approved by voters in May extended and expanded a 1994 levy that was set to expire in 2020. The 1994 millage was reduced last year from .58 mill to .38 mill, with the May millage approval increasing the levy to its original amount. It also extended the levy to 2030. The average cost over that 14-year period was projected to be about .44 mill. A mill is $1 for every $1,000 of state equalized property value.

The board at its Dec. 19 meeting unanimously approved a $3.34 million contract with Cross General Contracting for the construction of the auxiliary gymnasium, and a $2.12 million contract with Closner Construction for the addition of seven classrooms at Superior Hills Elementary School and two at Cherry Creek Elementary School.

Ryan Jarvi can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 270. His email address is