Horry Schools study suggests the need for repairs of HS tennis courts and tracks

A study of Horry County Schools athletic facilities suggested the district will need to spend about $12.6 million for needed repairs of the high school’s tracks and tennis courts.

The study, by CHA Consulting Inc., was commissioned primarily to examine the state of the high schools’ track and tennis facilities, though it also looked at other athletic facility needs based on recommendations from principals and athletic directors.

Most of the recommendations for tennis court improvements call for full-depth replacements and elevating the courts, along with adding an additional court to give each high school five. Some of the recommendations for tracks include fixes to the infields within the tracks. A major emphasis at all schools is being placed on improving drainage around these facilities.

Other recommendations, including football scoreboards, baseball and softball batting cages and additional practice fields, would cost nearly $15 million more.

HCS facilities director Mark Wolfe noted that the study is just a detailed way to start the discussion on improving the athletic facilities, which the board has identified as a priority.

Preliminary board discussions suggested allocating about $11 million of the limited building funds available until the penny sales tax expires in 2024 to these projects, but Chief Financial Officer John Gardner said the board hasn’t established a funding source yet.

CHA recommended breaking the tennis and track projects into three phases, beginning with the ones in the worst condition.

That first phase would be to replace tennis courts at Conway, Carolina Forest and Green Sea Floyds high schools and tracks at Loris, Carolina Forest and St. James high schools at a total cost of about $4.75 million.

HCS Athletic Director Roger Dixon said the Conway High School tennis courts, which have been impacted by flooding, and Green Sea Floyds and Loris high schools’ tracks currently aren’t suitable for official competitions.

Patrick Graham, senior project manager for CHA, said he hopes the board allows his firm to stay involved in designing the new facilities once a budget is approved.

Wolfe said any future work involved in designing and building or renovating the facilities would need to be bid out as the board gives the go-ahead to move forward.

When asked whether this might present a conflict of interest if CHA were awarded additional work based on their study, Wolfe emphasized that the study was a collaborative effort with each school’s athletic directors, and he believes the process has been and will continue to be very fair.

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Investigative project reporter David Weissman joined The Sun News after three years working at The York Dispatch in Pennsylvania, where he earned awards for his investigative reports on topics including health, business, politics and education.