Dowagiac school board approves construction of new baseball field

DOWAGIAC — The Dowagiac Union High School baseball team will not have to travel far to play home games next season.

Monday, the Dowagiac Union Schools Board of Education unanimously approved the construction of a new baseball field to be located on the field across the street from the high school, adjacent to Paul Street, during its monthly meeting Monday at Dowagiac Middle School.

The new field will be the future home of the high school baseball program, which currently plays and practices at the Rotary Park baseball field.

According to Superintendent Jonathan Whan, the district has access to the field because the field is included as part of the district’s lease agreement with the city involving the ICG building project.

Whan hopes the new field will be completed by next spring. The final cost will be less than $290,000 and will be paid through the district’s general fund.

“It takes time,” Whan said. “The cost of materials has gone up and labor costs are up. The funds will go toward earth work, fencing, dugouts, irrigation and more. There are a lot of different components to it.”

According to Whan, relocating the baseball field is phase one of the project. Phase two will involve the construction of press boxes at both the baseball and softball fields and the construction of bathroom facilities at the baseball field.

“We’ll be seeking quotes for phase two to present to the board for the board to make a decision on when that phase will be implemented,” Whan said.

The relocation project is part of the school board’s aim to reestablish the high school campus as a “complete” campus by having every facility on-site. The district will be developing projects involving the construction of a new competition track at the high school as well as its tennis courts located east of the high school.

“We’ll be seeking bids in the next few months,” Whan said. “Hopefully, those projects will begin within the next year or two.”

“The board has been discussing this project ever since I arrived as superintendent,” Whan said. “We are hoping that as we continue to improve as a district, we’re hoping this is a draw for families and the school district. We want to do this not only for future students, but for current students, too. We see the idea of a centralized campus as a positive for the entire community.”

In other business, the board unanimously moved to extend Whan’s contract by one year. The extension will keep Whan as the district’s superintendent through the 2023-24 academic year.

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