The Tosa East softball team will soon have a new home diamond thanks to the Wauwatosa School Board's April 10 approval of a rebuild of the athletic field near Longfellow Middle School.
By a unanimous 5-0 vote the board approved plans for a $1.76 million artificial turf softball field and tennis courts at the school at 7600 W. North Ave.
Initial plan reworked
The plan for the new facilities initially was to be a combined effort in building new softball diamonds at both Tosa West and Longfellow, which serves as Tosa East's home field. The West field was approved and built in 2016 but the Longfellow plan was reworked due to concerns from neighbors surrounding the middle school.
The approved plan differs from the original proposal in that it relocates the softball diamond to the northeast quadrant of the field and moves the tennis courts to the northwest quadrant. The updated plan also includes lights for the softball field, a bathroom and concession building, ADA ramps, a new driveway and safety nets.
The softball field will be built with an artificial surface that many in attendance said will prevent the frequent game postponements that occur on the present field. A Tosa East softball team member said out of the 11 games the team had scheduled this spring they've only been able to play three.
"It's a no-brainer to get this project moving," Tosa East Athletic Director Michelle Guyant-Holloway said.
Members of the Tosa East softball team, Tosa Rec Director Mike Wick and other administrators and parents also spoke in favor of the project, including school board president Mike Meier.
"You belong and you back each other up," Meier said to the softball players at the meeting. "That's what we are here for tonight. So you girls have a place to go and do your stuff."
Superintendent Phil Ertl said the building of the new softball diamond would help the district fend off potential lawsuits stemming from violations of Title IX, a 1972 law that seeks to bring parity to gender opportunities for young athletes.
The only vocal objection to the vote was made by incoming board member Steve Doman, who voiced his desire to push the vote to the April 24 meeting so a full seven-member board could be present.
"It was important to delay the vote because this is a large project that should be given consideration by a full board, not just five members, and by a board that will be here for the next term," Doman said. "It was certainly disappointing that they didn't see fit to have a full board consider such an important community project."
Meier received Doman's offer to postpone. During the meeting Meier spoke of Doman's request and asked the other four members if any of them wished to make a motion to postpone the vote. When none of the board members responded with a motion to postpone, the vote was taken.
"The girls need this," Meier said. "So I vote yes."
There were five members present for the vote because outgoing member Kristy Casey was absent and Stan Zurawski resigned in February due to family health concerns.
The openings were filled by the April 4 spring elections that saw new members Leigh Anne Fraley, Doman and Michael Phillips elected.
"I was still undecided and believe there are questions left unanswered, specifically why this project was given priority over the other needs outlined in the facilities study," Doman said.
Bid award and costs
The contract was awarded to VJS Construction Services from Pewaukee after a bidding process in which VJS said they could get the project completed in 50 days and for about $121,000 less than other suitors.
The original total for rebuilding the softball fields at East and West was $1.6 million, which was approved by the board in 2016. The delay occurred after the city's Design Review Board rejected the Longfellow plan but approved the West plan. The new plan for Longfellow was approved by the DRB in January.