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Protective netting to go up at high schools

Rosette Gonzales

John Burroughs and Burbank high schools will finally install

long-awaited safety netting around their baseball fields, but it will

cost much more than originally thought, according to officials from

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the district’s facilities department.

The School Board voted Thursday to move forward immediately on the

project, accepting a bid of $760,297 for installation of safety

netting and fencing.

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“If just one ball goes over the net and hits someone in the head

it’s not just a matter of inconvenience -- it’s a death,” said board

member Ted Bunch of the vital need to install netting efficiently.

Neighbors along streets lining the schools’ baseball fields have

long complained of fly balls from the fields, and there is a risk of

being hit by foul balls that reach the track or tennis courts on

campus, according to a district report.

The vote triggers the project’s construction this summer, even

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though the previous board approved the project last November to be

complete by now.

Board members thought they were approving the plans and

construction, board members said. But the project was still in its

infancy, with only conceptual drawings and no structural engineering

assessments, Supt. Greg Bowman said.

When Craig Jellison became chief facilities officer in January, he

and his team hired an architect to work with a structural engineer

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and develop the plans for construction.

“If you don’t have [structural engineering] as a basis, you can’t

determine how much this is going to cost,” Bowman said.

Last November, the board was told construction would cost about

$225,000, an amount significantly underestimated, Jellison said.

The board decided that it would not be worth the risk of

compromising safety to lower the cost of construction. Since the

previous plans were no more than conceptual drawings and did not

include structural engineering assessments, the estimated cost of

$225,000 was inaccurate, Jellison said. The poles alone cost

$300,000, he said.

“I don’t have a clue how the previous [facilities] administration

came up with the cost of $225,000,” Jellison said.

Though the project will cost more, Burroughs varsity tennis coach

Roy Bernhardt said the netting is long overdue.

“I’m thrilled,” Bernhardt said. “I’ve been complaining about this

for years. Over the years I’ve had parents, coaches and players hit

by baseballs and I got hit in the elbow last year.”

QUESTION

Do you think protective netting is needed for Burbank and

Burroughs high schools, and that it is worth the extra cost? E-mail

your responses to burbankleader @latimes.com; mail them to the

Burbank Leader, 111 W. Wilson Ave., Glendale, CA 91203. Please spell

your name and include your address and phone number for verification

purposes only.


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