Maine Township High School District 207 is planning to build a $9.3 million, 23,000-square-foot addition to the existing gym at Maine West in Des Plaines that would include locker rooms, a weight room and wrestling room.
It would bring those athletic amenities out of the basement of Maine West's spectator gym. But it stops short of something many around Maine West have long sought, and something Maine East and Maine South already have: a field house.
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Such a project would take up a larger footprint to make room for an indoor track, which is staying put for now in Maine West's basement. The biggest obstacle to making it a reality, district officials say, has been finding the money to pay for it.
"It's a thought," said Dave Beery, the district's spokesman. "The proposal here is to construct an expansion in such a way that if a (school) board at some future date wanted to add a field house, it could do so. It would work with this expansion. But the district does not have the financial resources to do a field house at this point."
At a meeting of the board's buildings and grounds committee in May, Maine West Athletic Director Jarett Kirshner asked committee members to consider the addition of a field house. Board member Sean Sullivan "expressed flexibility in having a field house" since all district facilities should be "comparable and equitable," according to meeting minutes.
A smaller-scale gym addition, as proposed, could be funded without borrowing or raising taxes through the district's budgeted 10-year capital improvement plan. In its second year, the plan has focused on upgrades to each of the district's schools, including window replacements, roof repairs and improvements to electrical, mechanical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems.
The Maine West gym addition would be one of the largest and most expensive projects in the 10-year plan -- and the only one involving new construction, Beery said.
Officials plan to pay for it using annual revenue from property taxes and state funds, but they also will dip into the district's reserve funds.
The building addition would essentially double the size of Maine West's gym, which hosts basketball and volleyball games, wrestling matches and school assemblies. It would include new locker rooms for both boys and girls, a wrestling room, weight room, aerobics room and trainers office.
Heating and cooling upgrades would also be made throughout the existing gym, which was constructed in the 1960s.
The basement space left vacant will likely be used for storage, Beery said.
"The area being used now -- it's usable, (but) it's outdated," he said.
The school board is expected to review the project -- and other capital projects for next summer -- in November. The project could go to bid in December, with construction beginning in March. The bulk of the work would be completed in the summer, and be finished by the time students return to class in August.
Beery said the district would not allow photos to be taken of Maine West's existing indoor athletic facilities until November, when the board will consider approval of the project.