By BECKY KISER
Not enough shade.
That's been the number one complaint about the Bickle-Schmidt Sports Complex, according to Hays Parks Director Jeff Boyle, and the city is about to fix that.
"We've planted a lot of trees out there," Boyle told city commissioners last week, "but that won't have the impact these will."
Boyle was explaining the bids for eight new shade structures at the sports complex on the west side of Hays.
The low bid of $451,280 is from Quality Structures Inc., Richmond, Kan., nearly $100,000 lower than the project estimate of $550,000.
Commissioners will consider approving the bid at their Thursday meeting.
The structures would provide three times more shade area than what is currently at the sports complex, according to Boyle.
Funding would come from the city's share of the Ellis County 1/4 cent sales tax. Last fall, commissioners agreed to use the new sales tax for quality-of-life projects in Hays.
The wood-frame shade structures with metal roofs would be located behind each backstop on all eight fields, with a shape similar to the backstops.
"There's currently 700 square feet of shade by each backstop," Boyle said. "By putting these structures in there'll be 2,130 square feet of shade. What is also nice about this, this is a continuous roof structure so the sun can't come in from varying angles. Our current 700 isn't true, depending on the direction of the sun."
The leading edge of the new structures is 16 ft. high, the same as the current structures. The back side drops lower, down to 12 ft., from the current 14 ft.
"We should really have nice coverage out there."
The new structures will also provide seating in the middle and along both sides of the backstop. There is currently no "middle" seating.
Commissioners were concerned about how well the new structures will stand up to the notorious Kansas weather.
"We have several QSI shelters throughout our park system, including the sports complex playground. Never had a problem with any of them," Boyle said.
Commissioner Shaun Musil specifically referenced the Aug. 13, 2019 storm microburst which did considerable damage at the sports complex and Ellis County Fairgrounds.
Two fabric-topped structures with metal poles at Bickle-Schmidt were badly bent.
"I will not be recommending any more of those to the commission," Boyle said. "Those don't work for us."
The new structures, which will be color-matched to that on the playground, are rated to meet city wind codes — 125 mph — and snow loads, according to Boyle.
In other business, commissioners:
* Heard an annual progress report from NCK Technical College.
* Heard a resolution authorizing the sale of general obligation bonds for a 25-year issue of $6.8 million to reimburse expenditures in connection with the North Vine Street Corridor project.
* Considered an ordinance delaying the start date of the CID for a planned travel plaza and truck stop on the west side of Hays.
* Met in a 30-minute executive session at the end of the meeting for discussion of personnel matters. No action was taken following the executive session.