The two basketball courts that can also be converted into volleyball courts. North Union also plans to move the batting cages into the new field house. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
In a year of uncertainty there is one thing that was certain for student athletes at North Union, the completion of a new field house. The schools were empty, but construction continued on the 24,504 square foot athletic facility and now the building is in its final strides until it is complete.
“Little things need finished,” said North Union Local School District treasurer Scott Maruniak. “Batting cages need put up, classrooms and coaches offices still need furnished.”
Ground breaking for the project took place June 26, 2019 and the building was scheduled to be complete April 20, 2020, but a snag with getting water to the facility bumped that date back and increased the price slightly from $3 million to $3.25 million, according to Maruniak.
“We had a few change orders that were higher,” he said. “Getting water to the site was higher, but the cost was in line with what we thought.”
Despite the price increase the district was able to get the facility paid for through a $2 million bond, $150,000 through donations and the remaining came from cash on hand, according to Maruniak.
“The district had some resources already on hand in our permanent improvement fund, also in our partnership with Memorial Health of Union County, they give us so much each year and part of that money has to go towards athletics,” added Maruniak. “We have been setting that aside in anticipation for a project like this.”
In anticipation for upkeep of the new structure the district hired a custodian to take care of the field house along with the existing North Union Athletic Committee building.
“There will be utilities like water and electric and personnel, so it will cost about $75,000 a year in upkeep,” Maruinak said.
The new building will house two full size basketball courts that can be configured for volleyball and used for indoor baseball and softball practice as well as a full weight room, locker rooms, two classrooms, a training room and coaches offices.
The new facility not only will bring new equipment and space for NU athletes to workout, but it will also allow them the opportunity to be more efficient in their training, said North Union Athletic Director Nick Hajjar.
Previously, scheduling practice time could potentially keep athletes out till 10 p.m. due to the number of teams.
“Having the new and old weight rooms has allowed us to get more accomplished,” Hajjar said. “We haven’t been limited by demand, so we don’t feel like we are losing out on training.”
Hajjar added that the complex also adds the option for athletes and coaches to have yeararound training. Hajjar is ‘hopeful it transitions to the court or field.’
Though athletes have been in the facility for a little less than a month, Hajjar added that he is seeing the excitement the facility is bringing out of the athletes.
“They understand how fortunate they are,” he added. “You can see it in how they are taking care of the place. Washing things down, putting weights away.”
Maruniak echoed Hajjar’s statement.
“We live in an outstanding community and are thankful for the support,” he added.
The weight room has eight identical weight machines to accommodate more athletes along with a strip of turf for additional drills. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
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